The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


March 2, 2013

Readers' Forum 3-2 | Coal miner appropriate symbol for Ramblers

— Several years ago, it occurred to me that it would be fitting to accompany the Windber Area School District Ramblers logo with a coal miner. Since that time, I wrote a letter to the school board, and I have spoken with numerous former and current members of the community who support this idea.

One of the institutions central to every town is its school system. In Windber, the heritage of the coal miner and coal industry is integral to the definition of this town. It is essential to draw a link between this heritage and the educational system.

Most every family in Windber has been impacted by the coal industry as a whole and the coal miner in particular. The coal miner became a symbol of hard work, dedication and loyalty to family and neighbors. These are the qualities upon which Windber was built and are just as important today for our young people to understand and emulate.

My intent is to encourage members of the community and school board to adopt the coal miner as a symbol for the Windber Ramblers. In a town that has a statue of a coal miner on its main street, that recognizes the coal miner on Father’s Day and that boasts the Windber Coal Heritage Museum, this would be an opportunity to connect the school district with the community in a lasting and meaningful way.

Perhaps opinions from residents, mining communities, school board members and borough council could help guide this decision.

Tom Rosa

Massillon, Ohio, formerly of Windber

Oorah to priest on Mount Suribachi

I attended an inspiring ceremony held at the Franklin municipal building sponsored by Conemaugh Valley Detachment 287, Marine Corps League, honoring Sgt. Michael Strank and commemorating the 68th anniversary of the flag raisings on Iwo Jima.

“Raisings” is proper because there were two American flags planted on the summit of Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.

Two hours after a Marine detachment raised the first flag, a second squad that included Sgt. Strank replaced it with a larger one. The actions of these heroes will be objects of admiration as long as there is an America.

There was, however, on the same day another courageous exhibition on Suribachi that has been almost completely lost to history. It involved a Jesuit priest named Father Charles Suver.

As he sat near a group of Marines, he overheard them mulling the possibility of raising the flag atop Suribachi. He promised them that, if they succeeded, he would celebrate Mass at its base.

It is recorded that 20 Marines, weapons ready, guarded the Jesuit as he fulfilled his end of the bargain at midday on Feb. 23.

It is also documented that, as he prayed, he could hear the voices of puzzled Japanese soldiers coming from the surrounding caves as they witnessed an unfamiliar religious rite being celebrated under their noses. It was the first Roman Catholic Mass ever offered on Iwo Jima.

I believe it is well past time to honor Father Suver, posthumously, with at least a hardy and well-earned oorah!

James C. Rovan


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