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Tri-State area honors its veterans

November 11, 1999

By DON AINES and DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writers

Photo by KEVIN G. GILBERT / Staff Photographer


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Most of the traditional Veterans Day elements were present Thursday around Chambersburg's Civil War memorial fountain: The Chambersburg High School Band playing Sousa marches with units from the VFW, American Legion and other veterans organizations keeping step.

World War I vintage vehicles and fire trucks, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts followed the veterans downtown, but the number of people in the parade almost equaled the spectators gathered along U.S. 30 and around Memorial Square on a gray, windy morning.

"I was surprised to see as many come out as did because of the weather," said Brian McCarthy, an Air Force veteran and member of AMVETS Post 224.

"I'm glad to be here, to be free, to be able to do what I want to do," said Glenn Lemaster of Fayetteville, Pa., an Army Reserve veteran and AMVETS member.

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Bill and Linda Billet of York, Pa., were spectators rather than participants Thursday. The couple own a World War II vintage Jeep and Harley-Davidson motorcycle that they often drive in veterans parades in Chambersburg, but Bill conceded he's getting a bit old to ride the cycle.

He wore a cap identifying him as having served during the occupation of Austria after World War II.

"We've kind of adopted Chambersburg. Or they've adopted us," Bill Billet said.

It was a ceremony to celebrate the G.I., the Government Issue "citizen soldier" this nation has called upon to defend its freedoms and assist allies over 223 years, according to retired Army Lt. Col. Robert V. Pierce of Chambersburg, the guest speaker.

"The G.I. was a wisecracking kid from Greencastle who landed on Iwo Jima and clawed his way up Mount Suribachi," the Vietnam veteran said.

The men and women who were drafted or volunteered to serve in the nation's conflicts "reflected our diverse origins," he said.

Pierce said they went by other names in earlier generations: Doughboys, Roughriders and Johnny Reb among them. During the parade a Confederate and Union re-enactor shared a seat on a Civil War artillery caisson pulled by an SUV.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. George Leader presided over a noon flag-raising at Providence Place, an assisted living home for senior citizens he is developing in Guilford Township. A seven-man VFW rifle team cracked out a 21-gun salute with M-1 rifles.

Leader, 82, who was governor from 1955 to 1959, spoke of two college pals who died in World War II and the G.I. Bill loan that helped him start a poultry business after the war.

He noted that NBC anchor Tom Brokaw has written a book, "The Greatest Generation," about World War II veterans. The former governor said it was the sacrifices of the generation that made it great.

State Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Franklin, presented American and Pennsylvania flags to Providence Place that had flown over the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

Children of veterans benefited from another event. Ronald McDonald House Charities presented $20,000 to the Scotland School for Veterans Children at the McDonald's in Scotland, Pa.

Steve Delamater, the owner of 10 McDonald's restaurants in Franklin, Fulton and Bedford counties, presented another $5,000 to the school in a ceremony attended by Coy and State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin.

The money will be used to purchase eight worktables and mixers and a walk-in freezer for the school's Colin L. Powell Culinary Arts Center. Delamater is honorary chairman of a campaign to raise $400,000 for the state-supported school.

In Martinsburg, W.Va., about 150 people gathered in front of a World War I memorial on West King Street to honor veterans.

Berkeley County Commissioner John E. Wright, who retired from the Air National Guard, said veterans who fought in both World Wars and other conflicts were disciplined people, unlike many civilians today.

Wright said the veterans "would not put up with the lunacy and craziness" of today's culture, which is illustrated by school violence, killing of women, and crude song lyrics.

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