The real Memorial Day still holds a special place

May 30, 1997


Staff Writer

HALFWAY - Local veterans of war gathered Friday for a noon celebration of what they called the real Memorial Day.

"Not too many people know (May 30) is really Memorial Day. We're stubborn and celebrate it," said Maj. Dieter Protsch, secretary of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County.

About 50 veterans in uniform and supporters congregated around the war memorial in Martin L. Snook Memorial Park.

Sgt. Ray Linebaugh, president of the Joint Veterans Council, said the federal government "cheapens" Memorial Day by making it part of a long, commercialized weekend. "Memorial Day should not be for sale, it's a day to honor our comrades."

He said young people see the day as part of a vacation weekend, not a serious day for paying tribute to millions of U.S. soldiers who died at war.


Struggling to be heard over traffic racing along nearby Interstate 70, Protsch told the crowd, "Memorial Day gives a clear look at both the past and future. There have been changes in the armed forces, but the valor, dignity and courage of men and women in uniform have remained the same."

Protsch said he has been working for years to push for federal recognition of May 30 as the official holiday, and an end to the Memorial Day observation on the last Monday in May.

With little success on Capitol Hill, Washington County veterans took matters into their own hands two years ago by making May 30 their official Memorial Day.

Jim Sprecher Sr., a former Navy seaman and commander of AMVETS, Post 10 in Hagerstown, said he is concerned that younger generations never will understand the conflicts commemorated by war veterans.

After the ceremony, Protsch, Linebaugh and others remained to measure an imaginary platform in front of the war memorial. They want to build a platform, at a cost of $7,500, so guests may stand on level ground during such ceremonies.

Linebaugh said the Joint Veterans Council is in the process of raising the money and hopes to have the platform in place for next year's May 30 Memorial Day event.

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