Centre County honors veterans in Sunday ceremony
BELLEFONTE — Chilly temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of Centre County residents, political leaders and, of course, veterans from turning out and packing the lawn at the Centre County Courthouse on Veterans Day for a pair of special ceremonies.
The first ceremony featured several guest speakers, music, and a special salute to veterans.
Veteran Bob Daughenbaugh was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He talked about the importance of Veterans Day ceremonies – not only in Centre County, but across the country.
“Ceremonies in small towns and neighborhoods like this, across this country, are the heart of America,” Daughenbaugh said. “It’s important that we honor our veterans on this day and, for that matter, every day.”
The Bellefonte Area High School band performed the National Anthem and students from St. John the Evangelist Catholic School sang songs honoring the military.
Lee Stout, an archivist and librarian emeritus of special collections at Penn State, spoke about the history of not only Veterans Day, but specifically the monuments at the Centre County Courthouse. On this Veterans Day, the monuments would be re-dedicated.
At the conclusion of the first part of the ceremony, VFW chaplain Mike Young talked about the importance of the United States military and the role that it plays not only in America, but abroad as well. He asked for God’s blessing for those serving our country.
“We ask your divine blessing for all veterans, especially for those serving throughout the world in far-flung places, who at this very moment, stand guard at the gates of freedom,” Young said. “Without the unselfish service of veterans, we would not enjoy the freedoms and liberties afforded to us in this great Democratic Republic we call the United States of America.”
Following the traditional Veterans Day ceremony, the Centre County commissioners — Steve Dershem, Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe — helped re-dedicate the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Andrew Gregg Curtin Monument that have stood in front of the courthouse since 1916.
More than 100 years old, the memorial stands to remind all those who pass by of the sacrifices of the many local men and women who have served in the United States military. The inscription on it reads: “To those who died to keep the nation whole, this memorial is dedicated in grateful appreciation.”
The monuments were dedicated in June of 1906.
“They were to commemorate people and military events, express gratitude and provide historical documentation for future generations,” Pipe said. “By 1900, Bellefonte had already served as home to seven U.S. governors, five of them serving Pennsylvania. Not only did this memorial and monument recognize those who served our country, but it also increased the significance of this place, already celebrated for its historic associations. And by doing so, it placed veterans at the forefront of our county.”
The approximately $120,000 project was helped along by a $49,475 Keystone Historic Preservation grant from the state, while the remaining cost was covered by Centre County government.
Dershem said that the monument and memorial help serve as a voice for the veterans who are no longer with us.
“If you look back, there’s nobody left,” Dershem said. “There are no more voices left from the World War I generation and we’re largely losing the voices of the World War II generation. That puts it right in our lap. It’s incumbent upon us to remember everybody who calls themselves a veteran of the United States of America. We all have that responsibility to remember all veterans – past, present and future.”