Sep. 7—ELYSBURG — A Marine Corps veteran who returned to Northumberland County in 2010 permanently injured said he is thankful to still be here.
Cpl. David Noblit, who lost his legs and suffered severe injuries to one of his arms when he stepped on a buried improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in October 2010, was a special guest speaker on Monday during the third day of All Home Days festival. He talked about how grateful he is every day to be alive.
"I get to grow old with my wife," said Noblit, whose house was built by Homes For Our Troops for Noblit and his family in Elysburg in 2014. "I get to watch my kids grow up."
The All Home Days Festival, in its 102nd year, began as a celebration of the return of area troops from World War I in 1919. The three-day event is held every Labor Day weekend in the Ralpho Township Community Park.
Noblit said he was in "a dark spot" after his injuries. He encouraged other veterans to seek out help and find others who have gone through the same thing.
"Try to find somebody who has been there and walked the same place you did, who has been through the same things you have," said Noblit. "I promise that if you open up to them you'll get through it."
He said many people ask if he would change what happened.
"My reply is no," Noblit said. "Do I wish I still had my legs? Yes. Do I wish I could live a normal life? Yes, absolutely. Do I wish I could do things I can't? Yes. I'm happy to just be here. I've met so many great people along the journey and done things I never thought I would do."
He said he still hunts and fishes and participates in sporting activities with other injured veterans. He said he also coaches youth football.
"I'm still pushing through and taking full advantage of the second chance I have at life," he said.
Noblit spoke before the reading of the names of local veterans — serving, deceased, retired or discharged. Members of the Boy and Cub Scouts came forward with each name and placed carnations on the wreaths, which were set up next to the Missing Man Table that symbolizes those military service men and women who never returned home.
"I ask and plead with you, let us not forgot and let them be in our hearts, in our prayers, in our thoughts, until they all return home," said Marc Burlile, who is in charge of veterans services.
The ceremony also featured retired U.S. Army veteran Jason Albert and Stacy Dowd, of Bloomsburg, who finalized their adoption of retired military bomb detection dog Norus. They presented three carnations for Norus' canine and human comrads and for all POW-MIAs.
Both Albert and Norus served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not together. The adoption was made possible by Herndon-based K-9 Hero Haven, a nonprofit organization in Herndon that rescues retired military and service dogs, rehabilitates them and places them with combat veterans or retired police officers.
Flowers and Field of Honor
The All Home Days Flower Show presented by the Elysburg Garden Club is always a big hit with visitors, said Club President Susan Crock.
"I love the flowers and making the community beautiful," she said. "People enjoy coming every year to see it."
Anyone is welcome to enter the exhibition. This was also the first year for the pre-school art show.
Lindsay Rockwell, of Catawissa, walked around the Garden Club displays wth her husband, Derek Rockwell, and their daughter, Kylah, 2.
Kylah loves the bounce house and the food at All Home Days, said Rockwell.
John and Joyce Davis traveled from Herndon for the event. Joyce used to live in Paxinos.
"I like the food, and seeing people who I haven't seen in a long time," she said. "It's humbling to come here and see the support from the community."
While walking through the Field of Honor display, they said they are thankful for the men and women who have sacrificed their safety for them.
"It's good to remember," said John Davi. "Sometimes we forget the sacrifices they made for freedom."
The weekend also featured a car show, food, music, fireworks, 5K race/walk, as well as 50 crafters and 40 vendors.