Greater Pottstown Unites Saturday For Veterans

POTTSTOWN PA – Greater Pottstown’s veterans of U.S. military service will be in the spotlight again Saturday (Sept. 23, 2017), as the borough observes Pottstown Veterans’ Community Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Memorial Park on West King Street. The event not only honors local residents who have protected the nation’s freedom, but also helps celebrate that freedom with hours of entertainment.

It’s intended to “provide a destination for a day of community togetherness and entertainment for the Greater Pottstown area (that recognizes) the service of the veterans’ community amid the war memorials” of the park, organizers say. Proceeds from the event support it and, through the participation of Rotary International, will also be used to serve the veterans’ community and improve and maintain the monuments.

A ceremony of honors

The day kicks off with a motorcycle ride that will escort World War II veterans into the park, followed by a memorial ceremony. In part, it will pay tribute to three selected veterans, all of whom will be presented with a “Glass Tear Hero Award:”

Joseph F. Howard, a local butcher who prepared meats in a shop at Charlotte and High streets in Pottstown, and who also served with the U.S. Navy from 1944-’46. Howard was a signalman aboard the USS Boyle, and USS Planter during World War II. Their missions were during the preparation and invasion of Hiroshima in the southern Pacific Ocean;

Sandy A. Laghi, a former Pottstown resident who died in August 2017. Married to Mary Sperat Laghi of Pottstown, he was a former borough police officer, owned a plumbing business, and was a member of the Father Bally chapter of the Knights of Columbus in Stowe. Laghi served from 1945-’46 with the U.S. Army’s 1/653rd Engineer Utility Detachment, and by age 18 was promoted to Technician SGT 4th Grade. He attended two training camps during his service, one for the Pacific and one for Germany; and

Lawrence H. Belz, who retired from Cabot Inc. in Boyertown. He served as a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy in 1944-’46, and graduated from Villanova University as part of the Navy V5 Program. Belz received his ensign commission in 1944. He also completed his military training at Harvard University, and Marine Camp Pendleton in California. His missions included operations of a flight squadron (F4US) airstrip; on Okinawa in 1945, experiences with kamikazes, typhoons, and the atom bomb Aug. 6-9, 1945; the occupation of Japan, and then service on Guam. Married to Ramona Belz, he returned home to continue his education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Belz and Howard will receive their awards from state Reps. Tom Quigley and Tim Hennessey. Laghi’s award will be presented to him posthumously by a personal friend of the family, Michael Murphy CW3.

The event also will acknowledge William Charles Hurter, age 100, who served in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to USS Franklin. He will be introduced and recognized for his service by his nephew, Richard Hurter, a medic who served in the Vietnam War.

The Pottstown High School AFROTC will present the colors, and Boy Scout Troop 99 will recite the pledge of allegiance and escort veterans from their vehicles to their seats of honor. Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas will give a special thank you to all veterans present, and the group “A Hero’s Welcome” will award all World War II veterans in attendance with a certificate. A “Warriors Watch” contingent will also attend to honor all veterans present.

The Hamilton Celtic Band will perform, and soloist Beth Sattizahn will sing the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America.

Honor your veteran personally

A Hometown Hero’s Wall also will be placed nearby. Those who attend the day are encouraged to bring a picture of their veterans (only copies, please; no originals, as they will not be returned) and write a note to their veteran or to veterans in general. All pictures and notes will be stored for future community days, with the potential for a permanent installation in the future.

A day of fun activities

Sly Fox Brewery will host a biergarten, along with a mini Kan-Jam event. Teams of two can register for Kan-Jam for $10. The Joe Kirschen Band plays from noon to 2 p.m., followed by Kendal Conrad from 2-3 p.m., and then DJ Vets Jeff and Mike from 3-4 p.m.

The Pottstown YMCA will operate an obstacle course for kids, and the Roller Derby Girls will be at the dunk tank. Pottstown’s Kiwanis Club will offer face painting, and the borough Parks and recreation Department will provide craft projects under the pavilion.

Food and other vendors, and games will be available. Visitors should bring lawn chairs and plan to stay and enjoy the afternoon.