Showalter, a parade founder, to be honored

Graham Showalter, one of the original seven Monument Committee members, also served as president of the Union County Veterans’ 4th of July Parade for many years.

Editor’s note: Marshals for the upcoming 25th Union County Veterans’ 4th of July Parade will include early committee members. The Standard-Journal will feature stories on the men and women of the parade’s founding as the big day approaches. Though not all served a committee, they were indeed there at the start.

LEWISBURG — Graham Showalter was among the original seven committee members who were honored on the rededication plaque of Civil War monument in Lewisburg.

Showalter, Nada Gray, then-borough manager, Al Hess and Henry Halverson will also be honored as parade marshals for the 25th edition of the Union County Veterans’ 4th of July Parade. Bob Benfer, Alfred Byrd and Thomas Kreamer will be honored posthumously with family members asked to participate.

“It was because of one man (Hess) who noticed that the soldier and sailor were not on the monument and did something about it,” Showalter said. “I look at the big picture, how one person can make a difference in life.

“Here is a single Second World War veteran who saw a need in our community and took it upon himself to accomplish his mission even when he wasn’t in the military,” Showalter continued. “He brought together a group of people who love their community, love their country and appreciate what the military has done for them.”

Showalter recalled that the copper soldier and sailor, which had been stored under the courthouse steps, were eventually restored. After a fundraising effort, the monument was also restored and there was a parade to rededicate it.

“I decided it was important to have a parade,” he said. “It really brings people together and makes them appreciate their heritage. To do that once per year is very important.”

Showalter served as parade committee president for many years. He apologized for missing the contributions of some but observed that a wide variety of talent from the country is involved. That included Bucknell University for behind the scenes things, use of the President’s Grove and take down of chairs for the ceremonies which follow the parade. USP Lewisburg has also provided manpower to do a lot of things as well as making new floats.

“What I tried to do was have a different float every year. We did that probably for about 15 years,” Showalter said. “Fortunately we were able to keep those. The first year we decided we weren’t going to have another parade, and we got rid of a Vietnam era helicopter which was state of the art. It is a shame that happened but we learned our lesson.”

Showalter also acknowledged the Lewisburg Area School District as the parade started through the grounds of the high school. It is now the GreenSpace Center and Clifford “Mickey” Melberger has continued to help out.

“What I try to do is include as many people as possible,” Showalter concluded. “I thought we are all on the same team here. We might as well all come together for something that is really bigger an any of us are.”

The parade has become more veteran-oriented through the years. But as time has passed, the roster of veterans has changed.  

“The first year we had five First World War veterans,” Showalter recalled. The next year we had three and the following year we had one.”

The Union County parade has become especially meaningful to Vietnam era veterans. But Showalter stressed that each man or woman who has served their country in the military is equally deserving of the honor.

Visit www.unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com, call 844-VETSDAY or email info@unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com for more information about the 25th annual parade and related events. The parade is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 29 on the streets of Lewisburg with a day and evening full of events to follow.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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