Bucktail honors vets

KEVIN RAUCH/THE EXPRESS
Renovo Elementary pre-school students started things off. From left, Brielle Riggle, Quentin Kalafut, Braden Casper and Marra Ballard.

KEVIN RAUCH/THE EXPRESS Renovo Elementary pre-school students started things off. From left, Brielle Riggle, Quentin Kalafut, Braden Casper and Marra Ballard.

By KEVIN RAUCH

For The Express

FARWELL — During the annual Veterans’ Day Assembly at Bucktail Area High School, there was a noticeable absence of a beloved local veteran, but his legacy was front and present as many times, Charles “Peanut” Long was remembered throughout the day.

Peanut, who served as a “tunnel rat” in Vietnam, was well known in the Renovo area from his career as a letter carrier, as a baseball coach, through his involvement in his church, and for the time he spent with the Boy Scouts. His presence at veterans programs of all types has been steadfast, so it was a numbing void Friday morning as the school held its first assembly since Charles’ passing in April.

Bucktail senior Kate Hand — who joined the U.S. Army as a junior in high school — wanted to be sure the packed gymnasium knew what influence her neighbor and mentor had in her life and her choice to join the military.

She played a video she had created in Long’s memory that featured old pictures and interviews with people who knew Peanut best, including his wife Donna. The moving film created a flood of emotions throughout the gymnasium and the silence was broken only by quiet sobs.

Later in the program, students were offered the chance to say the name of a veteran whom they wanted to acknowledge and thank for serving in the military. Danny Ryder offered her appreciation to her uncle Peanut and found it tough to hold in her emotions, as did several other young people as they spoke of loved ones who had served and have since passed away.

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