The Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration Will Put the ‘Memorial’ Back in Memorial Day
In addition to music, an integral part of the 2018 Great Pennsylvania Music & Arts Celebration (PennMArt) on Memorial Day Weekend will be three days of extensive programming to recognize the contributions of U.S. veterans, and to showcase Pennsylvania’s deeply-rooted role in the country’s military history. Appropriately, the inaugural event falls on the 100th anniversary year of the end of WWI, and the 150th anniversary of the first official Memorial Day.
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society (PAMPS), the Celebration will be held on the site of the World War I Camp Crane ambulance training site at the historic Allentown Fairgrounds. PAMPS CEO Siobhan “Sam” Bennett notes that the region is home to 50,000 veterans, and that PAMPS takes its role in recognizing the positive contributions of veterans – and educating the public on the nation’s military history – extremely seriously.
“We want to put the Memorial back in Memorial Day,” Bennett said.
Veterans of yesterday will be remembered in a replica of a World War I log cabin originally built in 1917 to honor the soldiers from the 77th Division, who lost their lives during the bloody battle in the Argonne Forrest in France. Local members of the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment will build the replica to provide a space where Celebration attendees can post stories or photos of loved ones who have served or are serving in the military, “So We Don’t Forget to Remember.”
Other remembrances will include reenactments from the American Revolution, the Civil War and World Wars 1 and 2. A military history series will include slide and video presentations on the history and tradition of the Purple Heart, the West End, Union Cemetery where both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried together, and the contributions of African-American soldiers, from the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War’s U.S. Colored Infantry, to today.
WWII Normandy bombardier and French Legion of Honor medal recipient Nathan Kline will be a featured speaker at PennMArt during Memorial Day Weekend. He will tell his personal stories and show his collection of photos that he took during his bombing runs.
”In keeping with PAMPS’ mission to preserve and promote Pennsylvania’s distinct musical heritage, we also will be celebrating our military music traditions by featuring performances by the Allentown Band, the nation’s oldest civilian military band, and its colleague bands that make Allentown ‘Band City USA,’” Bennett added.
As part of benefiting veterans of today, Viola Hertzog, director of the Lehigh County Veterans Affairs Office, is working with PAMPS on some of the Celebration initiatives, including providing complimentary exhibition space for veterans’ organizations, and showcasing those that provide housing and other essential services. People attending the free public event will be encouraged to bring new toiletries and clothing to distribute to veterans and their families experiencing housing challenges.
Children’s activities will include the opportunity for youngsters to create greeting cards and other art to send to deployed servicemen and women.
The veterans of tomorrow will be showcased at PennMArt, courtesy of the Junior ROTC Drill Invitational. The inaugural 2018 drill team competition will feature local high school drill teams, including those from the award-winning Louis E. Dieruff High School Air Force JROTC, and William Allen High School’s Navy JROTC. Under the direction of Major Timothy Page (Dieruff) and Commander David Crandall (William Allen), the 2019 invitational will go statewide, with future plans for a national meet to be hosted annually by PAMPS at its Memorial Day Celebration.