SHAVERTOWN – In recognition of Veterans Day, the Back Mountain Men's Ecumenical Group will sponsor its second concert this evening to benefit the First Lieutenant Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund. The concert, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Shavertown United Methodist Church, will include performances from Father James Paisley of St. Theresa's Church, Pastor Gideon Gaetano of the New Life Church, Barbara Roberts of the Step by Step Praise Band, the Shavertown UMC Chancel & Bell Choirs and more.
Cleary, a Dallas native, was killed in Iraq on Dec. 20, 2005 by a roadside bomb. He was 24. The memorial fund, which is administered by the Luzerne Foundation, was created by Cleary's family to honor his memory and advance causes in the community that he believed in.
I have a personal attachment to the Cleary family, said concert organizer Gene Kelleher, recalling when his son and Cleary took tennis lessons together during their adolescence. He was the finest young gentleman, he said. The type of kid everybody liked.
Kelleher said the fund, which only takes 1 percent of earnings for administrative costs, helps local military families pay for unexpected expenses without having to go through a lot of red tape. The first concert that the Back Mountain Men's Ecumenical Group held two years ago raised $11,000, said Kelleher.
Kelleher recalled how one local family was helped by the fund when their son was admitted to the burn unit of a veterans hospital in Texas. They got a credit card with $500 for gas money and another one for expenses.
They turned a tragedy into a triumph, Kelleher said of the Cleary family and their work to create the fund. The American soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
Seats can also be reserved by calling Kelleher at 674-4501