BROCKWAY — Mabel Delio carries a flag down the aisle of Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School every Veterans’ Day, past the young faces who quietly wait for the 92nd Annual Parson Marnati American Legion Post 95 Veterans’ Day Program. She has been an American Legion Auxiliary member since she was as young as the students watching her make her way toward the stage, holding the Legion flag at an angle.
That was in 1946.
Delio, now 89 years old, has been carrying the flag in Brockway’s Veterans’ Day Program for so long that no one can agree on a year that she started doing it.
“I joined the Auxiliary when I got married back in 1946,” she said. “My husband’s family served in the Army, my family served in the Army, too. He went to World War II.”
Delio and her husband also had brothers serving. While the family had several in the war, only one did not come home. When asked about her history with the Auxiliary, the only thing Delio wants to talk about is her brother.
“My brother was a hero,” she announced. “He saved his unit. His leader was killed and they were surrounded by Nazis. They didn’t think they would get out alive. But they got out!”
The history of Angelo Bart, her brother, is at Legion Post 95. The Legion post has a lot of history on the walls and in the record, and much of that history is her family history. As a member of the Auxiliary, Delio remembers coming to Veterans’ Day ceremonies and seeing a much fuller stage.
“There were more men in those chairs,” she said, pointing to the stage where four empty chairs separated Co-Principal Mark Dippold and John Fritz. Fritz, Dennis Hoss, Jack Tully, and Robert Siple represented the Legion on the stage, but previous years had more honored guests.
“As long as people keep doing this program, I hope to be here celebrating it,” Delio said.
Delio carries the Legion flag down the aisle, “tipped,” as she called it, to the stairs on the stage. In recent years, she has been unable to carry the flag up the narrow stairs onto the stage, so Tully helps her. Once on the stage, she puts the flag in its stand and takes her seat.
Once upon a time, she did not need help to get up those stairs. That stage, however, has not changed much since she started carrying the flag – though she is not sure when she started doing that.
“It was something I remember wanting to do,” she said. “I was proud when I started, and I am prouder now. It’s a great honor to carry the flag. I remember looking down from the stage and seeing my grandson playing the bass horn.”
Her grandson, Darren Butters, graduated around 20 years ago. Delio does not recall if that was the beginning of her time carrying the flag, but she knows she was doing it back then.
And Delio hopes to for the foreseeable future. She says that she thinks she will carry the flag next year. She is also quick to give advice to the people who sit in the auditorium seats.
“Be proud of your country,” Delio said to the younger generations. “Get involved. Be patriotic. We need to keep our history to keep our country strong.”