PHOENIXVILLE — Phoenixville’s VFW post 1564, veterans and members of the community gathered to remember those who have served in military service during a Veterans Day ceremony last Sunday at St. Ann’s Cemetery. The VFW chose the location in honor of the late Bob Hogga, the post’s commander and longtime member of the VFW.
Several Phoenixville area veterans from the post spoke to the crowd and paid tribute to those who have served in the military both locally, and across the country.
Post Quartermaster Jerry Buchanan said, “We’re here today to honor Bob Hogga. When we honor Bob, we will be honoring all veterans. On this day we are assembled once again to express sincere reverence. This grave represents the resting place of many departed comrades who served in all wars. Our presence here is in solid commemoration of all these men and women, and expression of our tribute to their devotion to duty to their courage and patriotism. By their service on land on sea and in the air, they have made us debtors for the flag of our nation still flies over the land of the free.”
Post Commander Bing Gensemer said it was a day for everybody.
“We have got to celebrate the dead heroes,” Gensemer said. “We’re here because of the past. It’s an honor.”
Junior Vice Commander John Lorusso agreed.
“We recognize the service of everybody that has ever served,” Lorusso said.
Senior Vice Commander Jim Keenan said remembering the day was important and reflected on its meaning.
“A lot of blood was shed to safeguard the principles that we value as a nation,” Keenan said. “It’s important for younger generations to remember it,” Keenan said. This town has had a lot of soldiers, going back to Civil War days. A lot of men and women have stepped up from this community to protect this nation.”
Hogga, a Vietnam veteran, had been a part of the VFW for more than 20 years. He was very active in the Phoenixville area and remembered for his dedication to serving within the community. He was well known in Phoenixville for his sports photography and programs with the VFW. People also remember him for his big heart.
Keenan said, “Unfortunately, Bob passed away while he was our commander. That’s why today, we are here for his sake. He’s always done a lot for veterans’ groups. He never forgot the guys who were his predecessors.”
Lorusso said Hogga would have been proud his grave was the chosen site of this year’s ceremony.
Hogga was the local post chairman for the Voices of Democracy program which is an essay contest for Phoenixville High School students. Every year there is an essay question or theme that pertains to veterans. The winning student reads their essay at an awards dinner each spring and is presented with a check. Hogga was dedicated to promoting this contest which is sponsored by the VFW.
Hogga’s fellow veterans at the VFW agreed his legacy to the Phoenixville community would be continued service.
Keenan said, “He never stopped serving the community. Whether it was being an umpire, or doing the Voices Of Democracy program, or just being involved with the activities and charities that we do as the VFW, he was giving back.”
“He was always doing something,” agreed Gensemer.
Members of Hogga’s family attended the ceremony and luncheon including his wife, Kathy. His three children, Bob, Jacki and Jon were also there.
Kathy said Hogga would have been very moved by the post’s tribute to him.
“He based his whole life on Veteran’s Day and the VFW, that was just him,” she said. “He was so involved with everything. I think he’ll always be remembered for years down the road.”
Son Bob added, “He’d be very appreciative of it, just because of how active he was. He was involved in so much.”
Hogga’s children remembered his sense of humor and how humble he was about all of the work he did in the community.
They also noted how much the VFW meant to their father.
“It was everything,” Jacki said. “It was like our second family. Everyone loved our dad, and we were always welcome here. “He was a great guy. Everyone’s going to miss him every day.”
Bob said, “His closest friends are here.”
Jon added, “The support we’ve had from the community, the support we’ve had from the VFW, the stuff that they’ve done for us has been a true blessing. It’s really nice to see all these types of things people are willing to do for my dad.”