It was a sea of uniforms Friday for Wayne Memorial Hospital’s rededication ceremony.

Approximately 300 people, representing various veteran groups, military members, and community were present for the reinstatement of the hospital’s original 1920 dedication tablet.


It was a sea of uniforms Friday for Wayne Memorial Hospital’s rededication ceremony.
Approximately 300 people, representing various veteran groups, military members, and community were present for the reinstatement of the hospital’s original 1920 dedication tablet.
“When Rich Garman (event organizer and executive director of the Wayne Memorial Health Foundation) asked me if I would consider being the Master of Ceremonies, I told him I would consider it an honor to be included in the rededication of our hospital, to all of the veterans and those who have paid the supreme sacrifice for their Country. I think it is very fitting that we have chosen Memorial Day weekend to honor these people and to pay tribute to the 55 WWI deceased for whom this original hospital was dedicated. If you look at the bronze plaque, which has been mounted on the brick wall to the entrance to emergency room, you will see many familiar Wayne County names on that plaque,” said Paul Meagher.


A fitting memorial
In his opening remarks, Helge Mortensen, Chairman of the Wayne Memorial Health System Board of Trustees, said, “Just after WWI, a selection committee made up of representatives from local townships and boroughs in our area, was given the task of coming up with a suitable memorial for the soldiers and sailors killed in action during WWI, specifically the 55 men killed in action from Wayne County. The selection committee chose to build a hospital as a fitting memorial to these valiant soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.”   
State Senator Lisa Baker, keynote speaker, quoted the Bible while addressing the crowd. “There is a verse from Ecclesiastes that reads: “Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth for evermore.”


As she spoke of the hospital as a “living memorial” honoring area vets, Senator Baker said, “The most compelling memorial is one that operates day after day, through its mission and purpose, drawing attention to the cause.”


“A passage by Author Albert Pine appears on the Wayne Memorial Health Foundation letterhead, ‘What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.’


“From generation to generation, we are obliged to keep memories alive and pass along the lessons imparted. Who these individuals were. What they did. What they believed in. What duty means. And as John McCain titled his book: Why Courage Matters,” she said.


“We owe them”    
WWII veteran Joseph Mennito watched from a wheelchair, with tears in his eyes. “I can’t go to a ceremony like this without shedding some tears,” he said, his voice breaking. Currently a patient at Wayne Memorial, Mennito, 85, served with the 15th Army Air Force from 1942-1944. What do we owe to every service man and woman out there, past and present? “We owe them what we got today,” he said.

Ensign Kyle Richter of Honesdale, just graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, wouldn’t have missed Friday’s ceremony. His great, great uncle, Lewis Dreyer’s name appears on the WWI plaque. “Service has been in my family,” he said. Dressed in full uniform, the 22-year-old said, “I want to uphold the tradition and give back to my Country. Service means a lot to me. I’m a member of Hose Company 1 in Honesdale. I’ve been a member of that ever since I was 16. And the Coast Guard is humanitarian service and I love helping people and saving people.” Ensign Richter will now report to Naval Flight School in Florida. He is the son of Michael and Barbara Richter.


Friday’s ceremony meant a lot, he said. “I think it’s important that we have ceremonies like this, especially out where people can see. ‘Cause sometimes, a lot of people forget that people actually served and gave the ultimate sacrifice and enjoy what we enjoy today. It’s easy to forget, too, the way our lifestyles are. And I think it’s very important to take time ...to really acknowledge and recognize those that are serving, have served, and who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
How do we not forget? “I think the best thing you can do, is just thank veterans, especially older folks who served. They go about their daily lives, not asking for anything ...A simple ‘thank you’ to them, for their service, means so much to them. It really does.” Doing that goes a very long he says, from first-hand experience. “They served for the people,” he said.