Long-time contributor remembers
Editor’s note: With the 25th Union County Veterans’ 4th of July Parade only a few weeks away, stories of the men and women who were there at the beginning will be featured periodically in The Standard-Journal.
MIFFLINBURG — Tom Reimensnyder, a Marine originally from Milton, recalled that some observers thought the first Union County Veteran’s 4th of July Parade would be the last.
It all began because the Civil War monument at Third Street and University Avenue was in need of a facelift. There were a number of committees at work in the early days. Reimensnyder was on the monument committee.
“We wanted to get it refurbished,” Reimensnyder said. “Somehow, I met Al (Hess), maybe through Betty Cook.”
He said Hess knew parts of the monument were being stored in the Union County Courthouse and a campaign was begun to restore the monument and hold a parade to honor veterans. An often-circulated story was that parts of the monument were at risk of damage done in protest of the Vietnam War.
Reimensnyder said it was possible that parts of the monument were taken and displayed in other places to drum up support, including on the island of Milton State Park. Early estimates indicated that repair of the original pieces would be costly.
Reimensnyder fondly recalled the 1995 parade.
“The sidelines were packed,” Reimensnyder said. “It started out at Lewisburg High School like where it does now, then down Third Street and past the monument to the end.”
He recalled how the post-parade concert of bands in the Bucknell President’s Grove began almost organically.
“We asked one band to perform,” Reimensnyder said. “The high school bands actually went in there and automatically played. We thought that was great.”
The committee was equally great, Reimensnyder said, and would meet at Cook’s home, at first in the living room and sometimes in the kitchen.
Reimensnyder marveled at Cook’s knowledge of Lewisburg as well as contributions of committee members through the years and friends. They included but were not limited to Henry Halverson, Alfred Byrd, Nada Gray and Graham Showalter. He recalled how Judy Wagner helped out and Ruth Blankenship was in charge music program. Reimensnyder thanked Hank Baylor for arranging for a place to meet at the East Buffalo Township Municipal Building.
“What I liked about it was that no one took credit,” he said. “There was no, ‘I.’ It was always a “We.’ That’s what loved about that committee.”
Reimensnyder served during the Korean conflict from 1951 to 1954. He graduated from Bloomsburg University thanks to the GI Bill of Rights, then taught and was a guidance counselor in Hamilton Township, N.J. With his wife Peggy, they had three daughters and moved to Mifflinburg upon his retirement.
Today, Reimensnyder is encouraged by the new members of the committee and had praise for Kevin Bittenbender, committee president.
Visit www.unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com, call 844-VETSDAY or email email@example.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.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.