PHILIPSBURG – For the third year in a row, a grand tradition will be revived in Philipsburg, namely the memorial service at the Old Union Church (Mud Church).
At 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be military honors and a memorial service for all veterans, especially those from the Revolutionary and the Civil War who lie buried in the Union Churchyard.
Participating units will be the American Legion Honor Guard and the Civil War Reenactors from the 148th Regiment.
Following rifle salutes and laying of wreaths by these groups, the ceremonies will move inside the church for an ecumenical memorial service sponsored by the Philipsburg Ministerium and the Philipsburg Historical Foundation.
A special remembrance this year will be held for the 100th anniversary of the John Ashley Dennis Jr. Post 437, the Philipsburg Chapter of the American Legion, founded by local World War I veterans on Nov. 19, 1919.
John Ashley Dennis Jr. of Chester Hill was a private soldier fighting in Co. K, 23rd Infantry, Second Division when he was wounded at the battle of Belleau Wood on June 6, 1918.
He died of his injuries two days later in Field Hospital No. 8 at Juilly, France, at only the age of 25. His remains were eventually transferred back to the United States, and he was buried with high honors in Philipsburg on June 19, 1921.
Four black horses pulled his caisson, and units from all over the Moshannon Valley participated in this grand memorial.
“It’s especially fitting this year that we should remember the heroes of World War I, young men like Pvt. Dennis, who gave their all,” says Philipsburg Mayor John Streno, who will be participating in the observances as a member of the 148th Regiment Civil War Reenactors.
“Sadly, the ‘War to end all Wars’ didn’t quite work out that way, but we owe a huge debt to the doughboys, and to all those who in succeeding generations have fought to defend our country.”
Pastor Christine Roe of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church will give the sermon at the memorial service in the church.
The ecumenical nature of the occasion will be underscored by the presence of numerous area clergy from the Philipsburg Ministerium.
“It’s important to remember that the Union Church served as a meeting place and sanctuary for nearly all the Philipsburg Churches in their early days, before they were able to construct churches of their own,” says Roe.
“We, Lutherans, are particularly grateful for this nurturing presence in Philipsburg, which we were able to take advantage of before our own church was built in 1887.”
Also, to be remembered this year is the 75th anniversary of D-day, June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, and began the long and arduous campaign to end the tyranny of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany.
“The veterans of this campaign are now nearly all gone, and it’s important at this time to remember their great heroism and sacrifice,” says Streno.