Proud military mom donates son's flag to senior center

By MARY THERESE BIEBEL | The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. | Published: September 8, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE (Tribune News Service) — The people who watched 85-year-old Ruth Sabecky of Pringle present an American flag to the Edwardsville Center for Active Adults were full of admiration for her generosity.

"This is what community is all about," noted state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Forty Fort.

"It's super," Edwardsville Fire Chief Engineer Jack Bonczewski said.

"It's a really amazing thing to do," marveled Mary Roselle, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging.

Appreciative as the bystanders were, some admitted they were sweltering – thanks to a blazing sun and a temperature above 90 degrees.

But if the flag could talk, it might say 90 degrees isn't so hot, not when you compare it to the 110 or even 120 degrees that have been recorded in Iraq.

Sabecky's son, the late Staff Sgt. Ralph Eugene Bagnuolo, served two tours of duty there with the Air Force and requested and received a flag that had flown over his base.

The senior center's former director, Mary Lou Kocher, had once pointed out the lack of a flag on the pole in front of the building on Russell Street, Sabecky said. She remembered that point when she was sorting through some of her late husband's things and found their son's flag, which he had stored.

She hadn't known exactly where her husband, William Sabecky, had put their son's flag, but once she found it, she wanted to donate it.

Both her son, who died in November 2016, and her husband, who died in January 2017, were Air Force veterans, Sabecky said, and they also shared a love of football.

"They were as close as a fly on fly paper," she said, remembering how they would attend Wyoming Valley West football games together.

Sabecky's brother James Snell and niece and nephew Nana and Leon Goss attended the ceremony along with the Edwardsville Fire Chief Engineer, Edwardsville Police Chief David Souchick and friends who, like Sabecky, are regulars at the local Active Adults Center.

On Wednesday morning, several of them led the spectators in singing "God Bless America," "You're a Grand Old Flag," and in honor to Bagnuolo's branch of the service, "Wild Blue Yonder."

"This is my number one boyfriend," Sabecky teased after the ceremony as she gave Rep. Kaufer a hug.

"He's only number one because I'm a relative," nephew Leon said.


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