The Northampton Township Patriots Program honors Northampton Township residents who were, or are, in the military and serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or other hostile areas since 2002. The Program was initiated in a ceremony on April 23, 2003.
If you know of someone who qualifies, and is a Northampton resident, contact Pete Palestiina or Northampton Township Administration at 215-357-6800.
The following is a text presentation of the Ceremony held at the Northampton Commons on the evening of April 23, 2003.
Good evening everyone. Welcome to the Northampton Commons and to our recognition ceremony honoring Northampton Township Patriots serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. My name is Pete Palestina and I am Chairman of the Northampton Township Board of Supervisors. It is my honor to be your coordinator of activities this evening and I’d like to introduce my fellow Supervisor Board members. Vice Chairman Dr. Arthur Friedman, Secretary John Long, Jr., Treasurer James Kinney and Supervisor George Komelasky.
Our special guest speaker this evening, and I will more formally introduce later, is retired Army Captain and Vietnam War Hero David Christian. And our very special guests and ceremony participants, are the families of those we will honor this evening.
Let me take a moment to tell you what is this all about and how it got started. A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Bernadette Heenan, who told me that a group of moms and wives, referred to as “Families of our Northampton Patriot”, had gotten together and formed a kind of support group. Bernadette asked about the possibility of having some type of recognition ceremony for these troops and invited me to a meeting with several moms and wives at her house in order to discuss it further. At the time, all we had was an anonymous benefactor who would purchase ceremonial flags and an inspiration to do something to honor our brave Northampton servicemen and women involved in Iraqi Freedom. At the time, the war was going on full throttle, and with all the protests against the war being highlighted by the media, there was a desire to have a public display supporting and honoring these brave people. They thought a small ceremony at our Township’s “Commons” would be a nice way to go and were looking for ideas to make it work. They humbly asked if the Supervisors would support them and allow the use of the Commons for the ceremony. I was touched at that meeting. They were concerned about their loved ones in harms way, and yet the words of pride and patriotism flowing from their mouths nearly left me in tears.
We came up with the idea of different flags representing the branch of the military served by each Patriot and how to recruit information to identify as many Northampton residents serving in Iraqi Freedom as possible. The flags, with a streamer identifying the Patriot, would be planted in the Commons and stay until the person returns, at which time the flag will be given to him or her as a keepsake and token of appreciation for their patriotic service in protecting our country and liberating Iraq.
I took the idea back to my Board, asked if they would support this plan, they did so enthusiastically, and here we are this evening. What better place to have this type of ceremony than at a small park that the Township has built and dedicated to all those Northampton residents who volunteered and served. As of now, we have 24 servicemen and women who are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
(6:03 p.m.) Call to Color Guard
Ladies and gentlemen, I direct your attention to my right, your left, to our Color Guard from the Marine Corps League who will present the colors after which Megan Sexton will sing the National Anthem.
(6:06 p.m.) Pledge of Allegiance
Here are two special young guests, a son and daughter of 2 of our Patriots, 6 year old Anthony McQuiggan and 6 year old Nicole Mento who will lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
(6:07 p.m.) Introduction of Keynote Speaker
You may recognize our keynote speaker as one who has appeared on the Fox News Network where he is employed as a news consultant. During the last few weeks he has been giving expert commentary on the war with Iraq. Still others may know him as a war hero. As a young U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam conflict, he would go on to become one of the most decorated veterans of the Vietnam War. Included were the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, seven Purple Hearts, the Air Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, to name just the most important.
In addition, David Christian had become the youngest second lieutenant in Army history, then the youngest first lieutenant and, finally, the youngest captain. Twice, he received the last rites. He had been shot in the chest, stabbed in the arm, suffered stomach and other injuries from an exploding antitank weapon, watched as his feet were ripped up and received napalm burns over 40 percent of his body.
But Captain Christian’s tour of duty wasn’t limited to his teenage years in Vietnam. After the war, Christian continued to infiltrate behind enemy lines during the Cold War for Uncle Sam. Escaping the clutches of death more often then he likes to remember, this real American hero developed and honed his skills as an operative. He was seriously injured, and even imprisoned, on different occasions in Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Middle East, Lithuania, and his old training ground, Vietnam and Cambodia. He is the National Commander of the Legion of Valor, calls Bucks County his home and resides in Washington’s Crossing.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome retired Army Captain David Christian.
And now for the ceremony of planting the flags. Up here along the walkway are the family representatives of the Northampton Patriots we honor today. Each Supervisor will announce the name of an honored Patriot and bring that flag to the person representing him or her whereupon the flag will be placed in the ground. We will rotate first to my left and then to my right as each name is called alphabetically until all 24 flags have been accounted for, 12 on this side and 12 on that side. Becky Keel will hand us the flags is Becky Keel.
(6:43 p.m.) A Mother’s Prayer: Chris Ingle
And now ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to recognize Chris Ingle for “A Mothers Prayer”.
(6:44 p.m.) Closing Commentary
Every generation has a limited few who are truly warriors in their heart. They feel, unlike many of their peers, a deep seated need, indeed a duty, to stand up and defend what we all cherish, our Freedom! They endure the physical hardships of very tough training, the emotional hardship of separation from friends and family (which is especially tough during the holidays) and are without many of the creature comforts we all take so much for granted within the boundaries of our own homes. They do it with a single motivation deep down inside: they want to do what is right. They want a good world, a free world for everyone, and are willing to put their own lives on the line for that belief. They want a better place for their children and parents alike. The American flag is a symbol of that for them.
These young people, putting their lives on the line for their countrymen who died in the attack on America at the World Trade Center towers, for the continued freedom from terrorism for their friends, family and fellow Americans and for the freedom of the Iraqi people, who may not even really know what true freedom is, are the warriors of this generation. They may like Play Station and Rap music but they are America’s newest heroes and they should be treated as such when they return.
The biggest hazard of the war appears to be over, but there is still danger there, and will be for some period of time as peace is restored and Iraq rebuilt. Our prayers are with our troops and with God’s blessing, we wish them a safe return and thank them for putting their lives on the line for you, me, America and the World.
Let us conclude this ceremony in appropriate fashion by all of us singing, along with Megan Sexton, God Bless America.
(6:48 p.m.) Adjournment
Thank you Megan, great job today. God bless our troops, all of their families and God bless America. Thank you all for participating. Go home in peace.