Smethport Honors the Ultimate Sacrifice on Memorial Day

Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller

Memorial Day in Smethport started with salutes at the veterans’ memorial in East Smethport and Rose Hill Cemetery. The full parade formed on Willow Street and stopped at Veterans Memorial Bridge for the salute to heroes before heading to Main Street.

Retired Army officer Sean Patrick O’Day (left) conducted Smethport’s Memorial Day ceremony at the McKean County Courthouse. The role of master of ceremonies had been held for 51 years by Korean War veteran C. Russell Johnson, who passed away earlier this month at age 84.

Rev. Max Simms from Hilltop Baptist Church in Gilford, gave the invocation and benediction. Pastor Frank Eppley of Emmanuel Mission Church in Kane, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was the featured speaker. Hundreds of Smethport residents turned out in 80-degree morning heat to pay their respects to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in war.

The Smethport High School marching band, under the direction of Matt Bailey, played several patriotic selections. During his speech Eppley noted how fortunate Smethport is to have so many supportive and respectful young people. The previous day, the band participated in the McKean-Cameron Bi-County American Legion’s Memorial Day exercises, which was also held at the courthouse in Smethport. Pointing to the students, Epply said the future is in good hands.

At the precise moment Eppley finished his speech, those assembled for the event were treated to a thunderous flyover by an Air Force C-130 turboprop transport plane. Estimated altitude: 1200 feet.