In a stirring Memorial Day address Monday in Kane, State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) saluted Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. VanGiesen.
The Kane native was killed last July while serving in Afghanistan with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
Rapp pointed out that VanGiesen was “serving on his fourth active tour of overseas duty.”
The 1999 graduate of Kane Area High School previously served in Germany and twice in Iraq “logging a total of 1,400 mobilized days in overseas deployment,” Rapp said.
The state legislator, whose district includes Kane, pointed out that only 16 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard have reached this total in overseas active duty “with great distinction.”
In her remarks, Rapp noted that VanGiesen received nearly a dozen metals for his meritorious service.
“Neither words nor countless medals can adequately account for the deep sorrow all those who knew and love Sergeant VanGiesen must consistently endure due to his loss,” Rapp said.
“As Americans, it is our duty and civic responsibility to continue to remember our fallen soldiers—every day, on every anniversary on every national holiday—right here in our communities and across the nation,” Rapp said. “Many soldiers gave their lives so that the rest of us might live in a free nation. Their sacrifice for us must be remembered. These brave soldiers have fought and died so that others would not know war.”
As Rapp pointed out, “we cannot let Memorial Day be just another holiday where people get a day off from work.”
“We need to participate in events like this, march in parades and participate in commemorations to remind people how important it is to remember the contributions made by our soldiers,” Rapp said. “This day is important to our nation and to those who defend our freedoms.”
Rapp said “Memorial Day is a day of commemoration” and “we must never lose sight of that.”
“We will never be able to comprehend the horrors America’s fighting men and women endured,” Rapp said. “We’ll never have the chance to look in the eyes of our fallen heroes—like Sergeant VanGiesen—and simply say ‘thank you.’
See full article by purchasing the May 29 edition of The Kane Republican.