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 Blog Post

Huntingdon Holds a Veterans Day Service

Tags: Huntingdon
November 22, 2020 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

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Chris Banks, veterans coordinator and corrections counselor, and FCPD Nathan Starr.

For the last several decades, it has been a tradition for there to be a Veterans Day service at SCI Huntingdon. It has been primarily organized and run by a collection of incarcerated veterans, inmate organizations, the chaplain's office and volunteer staff. It typically involves 50 inmates and a dozen staff working over the course of two months to prepare, organize and execute the service. They normally put together programs that were distributed and often had a guest speaker. They had a color guard and multiple rehearsals. They spent the whole day before the event decorating and running through the ceremony which was held in the auditorium or chapel. Then, on the day of the service, it culminated in a one-hour event where as many as 200 inmates and a dozen staff, from all over the institution, participated. 

This tradition, like so many this year, was on the verge of being cancelled.

There was no way that a dozen staff from different departments and inmates from every housing unit could participate in one event during a pandemic. The idea of bringing in an outside guest speaker was not even a topic they could seriously discuss. The notion of not having this event really bothered the staff and inmates at SCI Huntingdon. This was more than an event by inmates that staff assisted with. This was an event where staff and inmates found a commonality by taking a moment to say thank you to those who have served in the U.S. military.

With all of their typical options gone, several staff started to have a conversation. It was decided that the tradition must go on. A few staff, with the support of administration, were able to organize an abbreviated service. It was held in the chapel and was broadcast on the live chapel feed to all the institution televisions. They were able to print out a service pamphlet and make it available to everyone who wanted one.

Huntingdon was also able to have a Guest of Honor speaker, U.S. Army veteran and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employee Cary Adkins, through a prerecorded speech. The institution even had a special meal for all inmates and staff on Veterans Day itself.

Though it was not in its typical fashion, SCI Huntingdon kept one of its long-running traditions going. That was to take a moment to say "thank you" to all veterans on this very solemn holiday.

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