Milton Hershey remembers its war dead, honors its veterans - abc27 WHTM

Milton Hershey remembers its war dead, honors its veterans

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A young trumpeter played taps from one side of Milton Hershey School's Founders Hall.

Another young trumpeter bugled it from the other side.

The result was a solemn, powerful and hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Memorial Day anthem.

The Milton Hershey School remembers its fallen. Since 1954, the school has held a special Memorial Day service with a solemn roll call of its dead.

Students read the names of the 55 alumni who once lived on the MHS campus and went on to die in service to their country.

"Our Gold Star Alumni," said MHS historian Susan Alger. "We have not had a Gold Star since Vietnam, thankfully."

But not for lack of trying. A healthy number of Milton Hershey students go on to wear the uniform.

Cody Ricardo will graduate on Fathers Day and be in Marine boot camp come July.

"Every sport I play, I play defense, so I like defending things and people," Ricardo said. "So I want to go the next step and defend our country."

Cody says both his father and step-father were Marines so there was no doubt which branch he would join.

"I love the way they look, the way they present themselves."

Cody will not just keep his family connection to the Marines, he'll join an illustrious line of military Milts, as the school's graduates call themselves.

Susan Alger is the school's historian and prominently displays alumni military artifacts.

"I love to share with our students and it's really making history come alive," Alger said. "By being here in this school our students are part of history."

The late Eugene Lowe is a part of that history. The Campbelltown native graduated from Milton Hershey in 1941. Like a lot of young men he ended up in the 101st Airborne in World War Two. Unlike most, Eugene ended up in one of the most famous war photos ever taken.

General Dwight Eisenhower famously addressed the troops just before the D-Day invasion. Apparently, Eisenhower was wracked with guilt knowing he was sending thousands of troops to certain death. But Eisenhower was trying to keep their spirits up before the most important invasion of the war.

Eugene's thick and curly hair is clearly seen just to the right of the helmeted soldier Ike is directly addressing.

"It looks like General Eisenhower is giving last-minute instructions," Alger said. But the soldiers that were in the photograph said he was chatting with the boys trying to make them feel comfortable."

Lowe shouldn't have been there. He was in a military hospital with appendicitis but sensed something big was about to happen and went AWOL. He wandered into the unit just as Eisenhower was about to speak and be photographed.

Lowe participated in D-Day and was wounded twice in the war. He earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and came home.

For years, he and his wife Betty were house parents at Milton Hershey, and Alger says the students love them.

Eugene helped young people then. He still inspires them now.

Cody was taught about Lowe, and other MHS veterans, this year.

"They came from the same thing I did," Ricardo, of Sunbury, said. "They didn't have much. They had a bad background for whatever reason. They got over that, put it behind them, and they moved forward. They did so much and they gave back and that's why they're my role models."

Patriotism is not officially a course at Milton Hershey School, but clearly it is taught.

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