September 3-9, 2000
On this page: Reunion Summary (appears right below), or jump down to Pictures, or jump down to the Memorial Service Meditation (or use your browser's BACK button to return to Veteran's Association Page).
Post-2000 Reunion Summary from Linda Sheeran:
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!! To Mick and Dick Lebo. What a wonderful time we had in Reading. As we say in the Mid-West, "Ya done good!" From the first days when we had a chance to greet friends to the Memorial Service and picnic on Saturday, everything was top drawer. The trips were entertaining and well planned; the weather was perfect (we know you had a lot of control over that (smile)); and the accommodations were First Class.
( . . . list of attendees omitted . . . )
Some attended the entire week and some were able to be there only a few days or hours. It was an experience that will not be forgotten. Fifty-three folks were there representing the TUSCALOOSA, 78 from the WICHITA, three widows, twenty-nine guests and included in the bunch were nine first-timers. One hundred fifty eight people were at the Memorial Service and this was the highest number at any event.
The Memorial Service was, as always, the high point of the week. The choir was a great part of the service and the pastor gave a very moving talk. Several of the shipmates had asked for copies of the meditation and those words are included earlier in the Newsletter [later on this web page]. And, if I (Linda) may be so bold as to pop a button or two, the bugler was special (our daughter Jennifer played Church Call and Taps).
The hospitality room was bustling with people-sharing good times and watching those who were brave enough to chance the chilly temperatures of the swimming pool. It was a super place to find someone to tease, hug, and become acquainted with.
The men met on Friday morning and voted to meet next fall in Omaha, NE. The dates will be August 19-25, 2001. We hope that many of you will be able to attend.
Again, thanks to Mick and Dick for ALL their hard work and thanks to those who volunteered to man the "battle stations"...registration, ship's store, bar, etc. Without those people, things would not have been as smooth as they were.
On this page: jump up to start of Reunion Summary, or Pictures (appears right below), or jump down to the Memorial Service Meditation (or use your browser's BACK button to return to Veteran's Association Page).
Here are the hosts for the 2000 Reunion in Reading, PA: Dick and Mick Lebo.
Thanks to both of them for a WONDERFUL job. Dick was on the TUSCALOOSA.
This shot is of the hospitality room on Saturday evening.
It was a super place to get together with friends, share stories and just enjoy.
Another view of the hospitality area including the pool.
Here is John Sheeran (Wichita, President of the Veteran's Association),
together with daughter Jennifer Patterson (L) and wife Linda Sheeran (R)
Here is Leo and Dora Lee Brown. Leo was on the TUSCALOOSA
Here is Don Kolberg (Tuscaloosa) at the Saturday night picnic.
Here are wives of some WICHITA sailors: (left to right) Ellen Dilworth, wife of Tom; Helen MacVicker, wife of Warren and Helen Kaszubski, wife of Art.
On this page: jump up to Reunion Summary, or jump up to start of Pictures, or the Memorial Service Meditation (appears below) (or use your browser's BACK button to return to Veteran's Association Page).
THE FOLLOWING IS A COPY OF THE MEDITATION GIVEN BY PASTOR BRUCE OSTERHOUT AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE IN READING. [reprinted from the Association Newsletter.]
You are all doing a very important thing here, gathering together this past week to share stories and memories of your time in the Navy so long ago.
I have never been shot at, and I thank God that I haven't. I have never really been down in the belly of a battle ship. Oh, once or twice I have visited ship museums but it is not the same thing. I was never called to serve my country the way that many of you were. I read and studied the written history of the actions that your ships were involved in. But I wasn't there. That's why it is so important that you all come together to share stories and remember. Even as someone said, there are less of you each year. Keep telling the stories.
As a 41 year old, I can speak for those younger than myself, those who enjoy freedoms now that you fought to defend so long ago. Only a few of you here are younger than me. I learned about World War Two in school. But I have learned more about that in the last years by pastoring a congregation just across the creek from here. I have listened to the stories that have been told to me by the veterans in my congregation. I have heard what was said, what was meant. I know that some gave all.
Let me tell you about a veteran that I know. Seaman First Class Walter E. Wrede, Sr. I have known him for about 20 years. Walter is my father-in-law. He lives in Easton, PA about one hour from here. He is 75 years old. Two years ago he broke his hip so he is not as mobile as he used to be. We have to take the grandchildren to visit him now and we try to do that regularly. Walter just celebrated his 75th birthday last Sunday. My wife decided to give him an afghan that has the US Navy logo on it. He served from 1943-45 in the South, Pacific. It is embroidered with his name and rank. For a brief moment last week, he could proudly share and be recognized for his service to his country, in the presence of his grandchildren. The afghan now sits on the back of the sofa in their living room. The stories must be told.
Thankfully, the country is finally building a World War Two Memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC. Walter was an early contributor to it. I hope to take him to see it in person when it is completed. It is high time that our nation remembers what you gave and how you served so long ago.
Tom Brokaw's books, The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks have helped to tell your stories to the whole world. They are good reading if you haven't read them already.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and were tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from the wounds or hardships of the War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers or jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers or large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence know full well that the penalty would be death if they were ever captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and he died in rags.
Thomas McKerarn was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family constantly. He served in the Congress without pay and kept his family in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruftledge and Middletown.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in the forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrificed of the American Revolution.
These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
They gave us a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subject at that time and we fought our own government.
Some of us, in our world today, although I am sure none here in this room, take these liberties that we have to enjoy for granted. Every Fourth of July, we must remember the cost of our freedom.
Those of you who served on the Wichita and the Tuscaloosa, you have added your names to the list of those who fought to defend freedom, who have put themselves in danger to protect our country. You know that freedom is never free.
There are three things that we need to do, that we must do as a nation, as people, as a community. We must honor by remembering what they, what you accomplished in the past, remembering what you gave, what they gave.
We must commend them and you for your courage and bravery amidst the tragedies and trials of war.
And we must give thanks for their service, for your service in defending the country that you love.
We pray for their families as they grieve this day. We pray for our community that it might remember those who served with respect. We must pray for our country that it might continue to value and uphold the freedoms that were purchased with a cost, that our nation might be strong. We must pray for those in government at all levels, local, state, and national that they might lead with strength and wisdom.
Those of you who stood on the deck of Tuscaloosa will you please stand at this time. (Applause) Thank you for your service. Those of you who served on the Wichita, will you please stand. (Applause) Thank you for what you have done.
Keep telling the stories to each other and to the world. Keep gathering each year to remember. May God bless you this day and always.
On this page: jump up to Reunion Summary, or jump up to Pictures, or jump up to the start of the Memorial Service Meditation (or use your browser's BACK button to return to Veteran's Association Page).
Or, use your browser's BACK button to return to Veteran's Association Page