Written by Dan Miller
It would be hard to come up with a more fitting tribute than that paid to area veterans by students and staff of the Middletown Area Middle School on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Local veterans were met in the school parking lot by a student who escorted them into the cafeteria for a continental breakfast served by students in the National Junior Honor Society.
Many of the students had been working since 4 a.m. to get ready for the event, said Ken Britcher Jr., a Grade 8 history teacher who, along with middle school history teacher Kevin Little, plays a lead role in helping the kids put on the Veterans Day ceremony. Britcher is a veteran – of the Navy. So is Little - Marine Corps. So are many of the other teachers who are involved in the event.
After the breakfast, the veterans were escorted into the auditorium for a stirring ceremony that featured patriotic musical performances by the school band, the reading of award-winning Veterans Day essays written by students, and several professionally-done video presentations.
One of the videos, which was done by Little, showed the faces, one by one, of every veteran from Middletown who has been killed in action in the conflicts from World War I on.
The guest speaker, 1991 Middletown Area High School graduate Eric Fegley, spoke to the students of his years in the Army serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Afghanistan.
Fegley was part of the Army’s first Brigade Combat Team that entered Afghanistan just three months after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. His son, today a student at the middle school, was born on the 4th of July while Delker was in Afghanistan.
Fegley told the students that the best way they can honor today’s veterans is to do three things: “Work hard and do something meaningful in your life,” “be a positive influence for change in your community” and “find a way to serve your neighbors, your community and your country.”
“I hear people saying all the time, ‘What’s wrong with kids today?’ ‘’ Fegley said. “There is nothing wrong with our kids today. We ask more of our kids today than we ever did when I was a kid. The young men and women I see in this auditorium are among the most brightest and most patriotic that I have ever encountered.”
Sixth-grader Quinn Dworchak was one of three students who each received $50 for their prize-winning essay. Dworchak quoted a definition of veterans as “someone who at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of someone’s life.”
She wrote of her great-uncle Paul, who served in the Army in Germany; her grandfather George, who was in the Air Force for nine years, and her second cousin Jimmy who was in the Air Force.
Seventh-grade essay winner Angelina Torres asked her fellow students to imagine what it is like to be a veteran.
“Imagine yourself put into dangerous situations regularly. Imagine leaving your loved ones and home for many days, weeks, even months at a time. Imagine doing all of this for the good of your country. Imagine yourself as a U.S. military veteran,” Torres wrote.
Eighth grade essayist Brian Carrera wrote of his grandfather, who enlisted during Vietnam and served four years. He was an Air Force mechanic who worked on B-12s.
“Some people may ask why should they show appreciation to our veterans. You should show appreciation because they put their lives on the line to fight for our country. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to not only protect this country, but to protect us!” Carrera wrote. “To ignore that, to not acknowledge that and show appreciation for their bravery and their service, to me feels like an injustice.”
“For those people who still don’t care, you have to remember that ‘Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf’ - George Orwell.”
The students and teachers are carrying on a tradition that has now been around for 20 years. Retired Middletown Area Middle School teacher Paul Pollock got the ball rolling in 1994.
“I sort of put it put it together every year for the first 10 years,” Pollock said. In the beginning the ceremony was held on the football field.
“Weather was always an issue in November, so we moved it inside,’’ Pollock said. “That was better suited for the veterans, especially the older ones.”
The event keeps growing. Last year, 98 veterans attended the continental breakfast and program; on this Veterans Day it was 138.
The veterans are invited by students who are their family members or friends.
“She’s proud of me,” Air Force veteran the Rev. Dr. Otis Martin said of his granddaughter, Dalajsha Shickley, a seventh-grader. Martin worked in electronics in the service and afterward went to the Anderson Theological Seminary in Georgia. He now lives in Harrisburg.
“I love it,” Martin said of the middle school event. “I think it’s nice to have something for people that gave so much. It’s encouraging and makes you feel like you are important. Everybody needs that.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:04
Written by Jim Lewis
Middletown was almost evenly split when it came time to choose a governor in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Middletown voters chose Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by only an 18-vote margin in his successful bid to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett, according to unofficial returns.
Wolf, the 65-year-old Democrat from York County, received 996 votes to 978 votes for Corbett, the Republican incumbent, in the borough.
Corbett captured the Third Ward, 353 to 304, but Wolf won the First Ward, 275 to 245, and the Second Ward, 417 to 380, according to unofficial returns.
Most of southeastern Dauphin County was Corbett country.
Corbett captured Lower Swatara Twp., 1,600 to 1,135, and Londonderry Twp. 1,078 to 520, according to unofficial returns.
Royalton also went to Corbett, 172 to 128, as did Hummelstown, 747 to 623.
Wolf won narrowly in Highspire and by a landslide in Steelton. Highspire chose Wolf, 287 to 245. In Steelton, Wolf won easily, 856 to 377.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 04:57
Written by Jim Lewis
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who represents Lower Swatara Twp., Highspire and Steelton in Congress, held a big lead over a Democratic challenger on Tuesday, Nov. 4, one day after undergoing a medical procedure at Penn State Hershey Medical Center to clear blockage from his right carotid artery.
Barletta did not participate in Election Day activities, according to a statement from his office on Tuesday. Still, the Republican incumbent held a 106,566 to 53,097 lead over challenger Andy Ostrowski with most of the precincts in his sprawling 11th Congressional District reporting, according to unofficial returns.
Barletta led in Dauphin County, 25,405 to 15,602 with 86 of the district's 95 county precincts reporting.
Barletta's overall lead includes 123 of the 128 precincts in Luzerne County as well as all the precincts in Cumberland, Perry, Carbon, Columbia and Northumberland counties, according to unofficial returns. Results do not include ballots cast in Wyoming and Montour counties.
Barletta won in Lower Swatara Twp., 1,860 to 827, according to unofficial returns. He also captured Highspire, 281-138.
Ostrowski won Steelton, 731 to 473, according to unofficial returns.
Barletta was resting comfortably on Tuesday following his medical procedure to clear a plaque buildup in his right carotid artery, according to the statement from his office. "This will not interfere with the duties of his office,'' the statement said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 04:23
Written by Jim Lewis
Gov. Tom Corbett has conceded Tuesday's general election to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.
Both the Associated Press and Bloomburg have reported that Wolf, 65, of York County, has beaten Corbett, based on projections by CNN and CBS.
In a Congressional race that affects Lower Swatara Twp., Highspire and Steelton, incumbent Republican Rep. Lou Barletta held a sizeable lead over Democratic challenger Andy Ostrowski, 84,158 to 48,183 with about half of the district's 95 Dauphin County precincts, most of its Luzerne County precincts and all of its Cumberland, Perry, Carbon, Columbia and Northumberland county precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns. Ballots still were to be counted in Wyoming and Montour counties, as well as five precincts in Luzerne, according to unofficial returns.
In the 98th District, which includes Londonderry Twp., incumbent Republican state Rep. David S. Hickernell led two challengers for his seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Hickernell had 1,834 votes to 935 for Democrat Tony Crocamo and 115 for Green Party candidate Ryan Hazel, with 5 of 29 precincts reporting in Dauphin and Lancaster counties.
Wolf has a sizable lead in Dauphin County, collecting 12,908 votes to Corbett's 7,745 with 55 of 164 precincts reporting, according to county officials.
Wolf captured Middletown's First Ward, beating Corbett 275-245, while Corbett won Middletown's Third Ward, 283-254, according to unofficial returns. Second Ward ballots were still to be counted Tuesday night.
Corbett won Lower Swatara Twp.'s first, third and fourth precincts, with the second precinct still to be counted.
Corbett won in Royalton's Second Ward, 125-88, with First Ward ballots still to be counted.
Wolf took Steelton's Third Ward, 90-27, according to unofficial returns.
Barletta captured Lower Swatara Twp.'s first precinct resoundingly, 676-232, as well as the township's third precinct (392-241) and fourth precinct (367-160), according to unofficial returns. Ballots in the second precinct were still to be counted.
Ostrowski won Steelton's Third Ward, 221-90 and Fourth Ward, 102-37, according to unofficial returns.
The 11th Congressional District also includes a part of Cumberland County, Perry County, Carbon County, Luzerne County and Northumberland County and all of Columbia County, Wyoming County and Montour County.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 03:50
Written by Eric Wise
A Whitehall man has launched a write-in campaign for a congressional seat representing Middletown, Royalton, Londoneerry Twp. and Hummelstown with the hopes of relieving what he calls an unfair tax burden on Americans in funding all levels of the judicial branch of government.
Dennis Atiyeh has spent the last month campaigning to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Lehigh County, including the placement of campaign ads in the Press And Journal and Hummelstown Sun.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 20:44