Lilly American Legion honors Blair County vets

LILLY — In a day to honor prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, about 20 guests from the Hollidays­burg Veterans’ Home in Duncansville ate pizza, fruit and a variety of deserts Friday afternoon at an American Legion luncheon along Jones Street.

Max and Elaine Roberts of Enterprise, Alabama, were at the luncheon, where Max — a retired Army aircraft mechanic — read a speech to the veteran guests.

“Today, Americans across the country will pause to remember the United States service members who never came home, either living or dead. Those who have served, and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice.

“We are compelled to never forget that, while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment,” he said.

Air Force veteran Gary Greene of Huntington was one of the guests in attendance.

“I enjoyed that ceremony,” Greene said.

Although Elaine Roberts no longer lives in Pennsyl­vania, she said she grew up in Lilly.

“This is my hometown, so I grew up in this legion. It doesn’t matter which group you belong to, you can go into any legion and be there as a guest,” she said, adding that the couple travel the country. “We can stop anywhere.”

The American Legion’s Lilly auxiliary unit was revitalized in January 2017, auxiliary President Beatrice Zurilla said.

“We’ve only been here a year and a half, and we have gone through quite a few things in that year and a half,” she said. “We started out with 13 ladies. We now have 43. All of the ladies blend with one another. They’re very cooperative.” Zurilla said that auxiliary members must have relatives who have served in the military.

“Every lady here has a veteran in their lives,” Zurilla said of the 15 auxiliary members who attended the luncheon. She said the luncheon’s food was funded through a yard sale held in early August and that any funds left over likely would be used to purchase and donate goods to Tomorrow’s Hope, a veterans’ housing and service center in Coalport Borough.

“Last year, we gave each veteran a backpack that had personal stuff in it,” Zurilla said, adding that soaps, towels and pillows were among the items included in the backpacks. “Some of the ladies donated stuff. We got stores to donate stuff. That’s what’s nice. This group of ladies (is) wonderful.

“We do what we think has to be done.”