Local Hero and His Mom Team Up for Special Ceremony
United States Army Sgt. Adam Hartswick lost his legs to an IED on May 14, 2013 while serving in Afghanistan as a medic.
During the long months ahead at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., his mother, Morgen Hummel, was his companion, cheerleader and supporter.
Just a few hours after the injury she said: "He is my rock and has always been there for me. I will be there for him."
She has done that, and more, over the past year.
On Sunday, May 25, the mother and son are teaming up again to honor those who have lost their lives — enabling the rest of us to live free. At 3 p.m., at the Pine Hall Cemetery, Sgt. Hartswick will speak to the group assembled for the Memorial Day Service.
His mother will lead the music portion of the program. The American Legion Nittany Post 245 is offering the Memorial Day Service, with assistance from the Pine Hall Cemetery Association. Hummel has been taking part in the ceremonies for the last fifteen years. She is the first female Commander of the Honor Guard for Pine Grove Mills VFW Post 5825.
Both of Hartswick's grandfathers served in WWII. Malcolm "Max" Hummel, Morgan's father, landed at Omaha Beach two days after the Normandy Invasion. He served as Commander of the Honor Guard for 40 years. He passed away in 2006.
Mike Tussey is the Commander of Post 5825. During the tribute to honor those who have sacrificed themselves for their country, 50 flags will be raised at various spots around the Pine Hall Cemetery.
This tribute is only one of 11 to occur around western Centre County. The Upper Pine Grove Mills Celebration begins at noon on Memorial Day. Hartswick and Hummel will travel to the Pine Grove Mills Lower Cemetery Memorial Day Celebration at 12:30 p.m., where Hartswick will speak and Hummel will play and sing.
"It's very humbling, but I am very proud to speak in front of my hometown people," Sgt. Hartswick says. As his mother says, "Someone must do this. We must not forget, or allow others to forget, what these men and women have done for the country."
So when asked, Hummel says the VFW group will don their uniforms, grab their rifles and attend to the business at hand.
They attend to the serious business of honoring the dead. As an oft-quoted phrase says, "America is the land of the free — because of the brave." Children must be taught what the real beginning of Memorial Day involved.
People began to spread flowers on the graves to honor the dead from the Civil War. At least 24 towns, including Boalsburg, have claimed to be the initiators of the special day known as Memorial Day. After the First World War, the day was expanded to include the dead from all American Wars.
In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a National Holiday, although many people still call it "decoration day," an earlier label. Many families place flowers on graves of their loved ones on Memorial Day, whether the deceased were veterans or not.
The important symbolism of this National Holiday in May is to "remember" all those who served their country and gave up their lives in the name of freedom. In addition, remember to thank all service men and woman who are still serving and facing danger daily — for us.