The keynote speaker for this Memorial Day event was a natural choice, retired Four Star Air Force General Ronald Fogleman. The highly decorated combat pilot and former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke of personal and national sacrifices needed to keep our country free. He then led the dedication of the river bridge connecting Mifflintown and Mifflin in Juniata County.
“From this moment on the bridge you see behind me will be forever known as the Juniata County Veterans Memorial Bridge,” declared Fogleman, as a new sign was unveiled.
For 38 years, those under the general’s command addressed him only as, Sir. But, to many in this crowd he was and is Ronnie, a popular athlete from Juniata Joint High School, class of 1959. Even then, as declared in his yearbook message, he was destined for a career in the wild blue yonder. He was also a guy smart enough to team up with classmate Mary Jane Lauver for a 51-year-marriage, two sons and granddaughter, Amelia, named after famed female pilot Amelia Earhart.
Fogleman credits much of his success to growing up among his parents’ generation, popularly called the greatest generation, including his 90-year-old dad, Harry, a combat veteran of World War Two.
“They were the fabric of the community. They taught you the values,” said Fogleman. “And, when you needed a little discipline, they gave you a little discipline,” he added with a grin.
Fogleman’s post-military career finds him working and flying in the corporate world. This allows regular visits to the midstate for his wife, known to her friends as Miss Jane, and him from their retirement ranch in Durango, Colorado.