It was a day fit for area veterans.
Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, held her 13th annual Veterans Breakfast, Expo and Recognition Ceremony in Misericordia University’s Insalaco Hall on Saturday morning.
“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the brave men and women who have served our country with distinction,” Boback said at a breakfast for veterans where she kept her remarks short, merely noting that she had learned a day or two before that ‘The Wall that Heals,’ a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D. C., was coming to Tunkhannock next spring.
The breakfast was followed by a special appreciation program held in the Lemmond Theater, to honor the veterans.
There she noted, “You have seen firsthand what tyranny has meant for society around the world. You are the real heroes in this land.”
She introduced keynote speaker, Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Munley, who spoke about a veterans issues program he has on WBRE-TV which he hopes might go statewide in 2020.
While he said he was proud to serve the area as a lawyer and a judge, “I have to tell you that the proudest thing I ever did was put on a uniform to serve this great land.”
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” he added wondering why Uncle Sam had not sent him to some exotic destination like Paris, France, or Hawaii.
“That would have been great, but nope, my order said Vietnam Infantry. This was not an easy time with 24 hours of stress every day,” he said. “After I got out of there, I decided to spend my life doing what I could to help veterans.”
He recalled that when he was 22, “My machine gunner was 18 with at least seven or eight mortar rounds. Think about that for a minute.”
He remembered one day, lying down using his helmet as a pillow, this buddy decides to take off his shoes and socks.
“Tom, Tom, look at my big toe,” he recalled.
Munley said he looked down and saw this rat licking his big toe.
He was horrified but the buddy told him, “It’s okay, he’s having fun. That was Vietnam.”
“My message is simple,” Munley told the veterans. “I just want to thank you for being here, and thank you for wearing the uniform. I’ll never forget you.”
The assembly closed with ‘God Bless America,’ led by a Misericordia select choir.