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Ceremony honors freedom

May 25, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A few raindrops and some chilly wind gusts weren't enough to keep area veterans and other patriots from coming out Sunday afternoon to celebrate Memorial Day in front of the Washington County Courthouse.

"We must remember that freedom is the natural state of God's children," said Robert L. Everhart, Western Maryland district commander of the American Legion.

But Master of Ceremonies Paul Pottenger of the Morris Frock Post 42 added the somber reminder that freedom is never free.

"We have so many rights but they have had to be defended, time and time again," Pottenger said.

Those words, blended with inspirational music by the Hagerstown Municipal Band, a 21-gun salute and the poignant playing of "Taps," combined to make the traditional service at the courthouse memorable.

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Pottenger described Memorial Day as a special day for all Americans, not just veterans. He said it is a day set aside for those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy.

Then the traditional presentation of wreaths by veterans' groups honored the fallen from the two world wars, the Mexican-American War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other places where Americans have fought for freedom.

Among the youngest honoring veterans Sunday was 9-year-old Jessica Gray, who proudly saluted the U.S. flag and placed a wreath from Bester Elementary School Girl Scout Troop 245.

Everhart said Sunday he worries today's youth knows little about the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

To counter that trend, Everhart was happy to report that veterans handed out flags and talked about patriotism last week to third-graders in Washington County elementary schools.

"We must remind our teachers to teach about the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, too," Everhart said.

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