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Never Forgetting The Fallen
by Army Spc. Matthew Keeler - January 8, 2012

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December 21, 2011 - Lead by the nation’s colors and the 213th Regional Support Group’s guidon, soldiers of the 213th RSG, Anthony “Tony the Vet” LoBue, a disabled-veteran, and Thomas McBrien IV, spokesperson for the “United we Stand/United we SθW” flag, jog through Allentown, Pa., en-route to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Beginning early, the group jogged around town on a tour of the many different monuments throughout Allentown. Photo by Army Spc. Matthew Keeler
December 21, 2011 - Lead by the nation's colors and the 213th Regional Support Group's guidon, soldiers of the 213th RSG, Anthony “Tony the Vet” LoBue, a disabled-veteran, and Thomas McBrien IV, spokesperson for the “United we Stand/United we SθW” flag, jog through Allentown, Pa., en-route to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Beginning early, the group jogged around town on a tour of the many different monuments throughout Allentown. Photo by Army Spc. Matthew Keeler
 ALLENTOWN, Pa. (1/4/2012) – The eerie pre-lit hours of morning swept across Trexler Park as soft grey clouds began to sprinkle their cold droplets of rain on the chilly December day. Even with the rain, and the cold as a constant competitor, nothing could stop the determination of Anthony “Tony the Vet” LoBue from his mission of honoring the history of the 213th Regional Support Group. But he was not alone as the dark clouds continued to gather and the puddles swelled. Besides Tony, soldiers hoisting the Guidon of the 213th Regional Support Group with determined looks on their faces prepared for the journey across Allentown, Pa., to honor the history and sacrifice of many brave men and women.

213th RSG, or the ‘First Defenders', can be dated back to pre-civil war era, said Maj. Gen. Gerald Still, United States Air Force Reserve(Retired) and president of Lehigh Valley Military Affairs council.

“The ‘First Defenders', the first group to be called out by President [Abraham] Lincoln in 1861, was this group, they were the ‘Allen Rifles',” he said, in reference to Allentown,
Pa., based unit.

“They were the group that responded to Lincoln's message to travel to Washington, D.C.; they were one of five different groups to respond.”

When they got to Washington, President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward called them, ‘the First Defenders' and the name has stuck ever since.

For ‘Tony the Vet', rally across different towns and cities, in remembrance of the fallen is not new to him. As a senior, disabled, wartime veteran, he was the founder of Walkathon Across America; a marathon where he started from San Diego, Calif., Sept. 11, 2010, to arrive at ground zero in New York City, Sept. 11, 2011.

“Today we are leading a six-mile walking tour to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the local 213th Regiment [Support Group],” said Tony. “This coincides with a number of other anniversaries like my Walk Across America to support our veterans, which began in San Diego last year and ended at Ground Zero in New York this year. [It's about] supporting the victims and the survivors and the heroes of 9/11, and to support people who come up with projects like the 9/11 memorial flag.”

December 21, 2011 - (Front) Anthony “Tony the Vet” LoBue, a retired, disabled-veteran and the founder of the “Walkathon Across America,” signs his name upon the bottom edge of the “United we Stand/United we S?W” flag at the Gen. Charles C. Curtis, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory, Allentown, Pa., as Thomas McBrien IV, spokesperson for the flag, assists him. Tony’s, a supporter of veterans foundations, walkathon started in San Diego, Sept. 11, 2010, and ended in New York City Sept. 11, 2011, in which he had walked across the country. Photo by Army Spc. Matthew Keeler
December 21, 2011 - (Front) Anthony “Tony the Vet” LoBue, a retired, disabled-veteran and the founder of the “Walkathon Across America,” signs his name upon the bottom edge of the “United we Stand/United we S?W” flag at the Gen. Charles C. Curtis, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory, Allentown, Pa., as Thomas McBrien IV, spokesperson for the flag, assists him. Tony's, a supporter of veterans foundations, walkathon started in San Diego, Sept. 11, 2010, and ended in New York City Sept. 11, 2011, in which he had walked across the country. Photo by Army Spc. Matthew Keeler
 All across Allentown, different statues and memorials through town all mark and honor the soldiers and service members throughout history. On arrival to the General Charles C. Curtis Armory, on display was a special memorial that commemorated not only valiant firefighters and police officers, but also innocent civilians; it was the “United we Stand/United we S?W” flag.

“It's important to not forget about the sacrifices made by our veterans, and to be here, “said Maj. Keith W. McKeon, brigade personnel officer for the 213th RSG and the coordinator for the event, and a Nazareth, Pa., native. “But this event is key, it's not just about our veterans but these are civilians and first responders, because those were not soldiers...”

The flag was created in the memories of all the victims of 9/11. For each and every soul lost on that day a 4 foot by 6 foot flag was created and labeled with their name and sewn onto the overall flag; creating a design of 2, 983 miniature flag.

During the discussion of the flag, Thomas McBrien IV, spokesperson for the flag, along with the help of volunteers from the community from Bucks County, Pa. and Hunterdon County, N.J., discussed the many different flags and patches sewn into the giant flag that helped it come together.

“Over 500 people participated in this project over a five month period,” McBrien said. “The nation's flags that you see came from the state department, and no way that we could duplicate those flags from those spots; because each of those flags represents someone who perished in those two and half hours on 9/11.”

Along the bottom of the flag, a number of different police and firefighter badges are sewn along the border to represent the first responders and others who were also lost that day, he said.

“I'm glad; we were able to set this up. We have now been the home base for the 9/11 tapestry [United we Stand / United we S?W] for a couple of
months and its eventual resting place is going to be the 9/11 memorial,” said McKeon.

The sun cut through the clouds that had perched and loomed over the morning in large shadows. Its grip finally released to welcome the warmth and cheer of the sun, as Tony along with his escort of soldiers from the 213th RSG finished their tour. It demonstrated that no matter, if it was during the days of the Civil War or during Sept. 11, 2001, that service members today and for generations continue to never forget the sacrifice and dedication of brothers, and sisters of Pennsylvania, and of this country.

By Army Spc. Matthew Keeler
109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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