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County salutes veterans for their sacrifices

November 11, 1999

By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

Photo by JOE CROCETTA / Staff Photographer


A cold November wind didn't stop veterans and others from attending a series of Veterans Day observances around Washington County Thursday.

The first event of the day was held in front of the Wal-Mart store on Wesel Boulevard at 7:30 a.m.

A U.S. flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol was raised over the store. The flag was provided by U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., who was not present.

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Store employees were on hand for the ceremonial flag raising, joining the two dozen veterans who attended.

"We will also be sending a 4-foot thank you card to the veterans/residents of the third floor at the Western Maryland Center," said Lisa Coleman, Wal-Mart coordinator of the event.

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The card, which had been on display in the store lobby for several weeks, was signed by hundreds of customers who wanted to thank veterans for their sacrifices, Coleman said.

John Bumbaugh, first vice commander of the Western Maryland district of the American Legion, remarked that Veterans Day, as well as veterans, must always be remembered.

A wreath-laying ceremony at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park later Thursday morning featured Ret. U.S. Army Reserve Major Ronald L. Bowers who shared insight of military life, past and present, through his own eyes and the eyes of a 26-year-old U.S. Marine Corps captain stationed at Parris Island, S.C.

"The military is not a 9-to-5 job," Bowers said. "Many have given up a lot more than time, forfeiting their youth, health, family and some even their lives."

He stressed that all Americans enjoy the peace earned by our veterans.

The concerns of today's military personnel are somewhat different, Bowers said.

In a letter to Bowers, that young Marine Corps captain, Bowers' son Michael, proclaimed his pride in today's military, which he described as the most highly trained in the world.

But the younger Bowers also expressed concern to his father that the battle of attrition might not be won unless more young people fulfill their military obligations.

The traditional ceremony at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was held in front of the Washington County Courthouse.

More than 100 veterans attended and heard Robert Johnson, the Maryland State American Legion Alternate National Executive Committeeman speak.

"Veterans Day is not just to pay tribute to those who died in the line of duty," Johnson said.

He suggested going to a hospital to visit a 75-year-old World War II veteran and thanking him for his sacrifices for freedom.

"Or find a 65-year-old Korean War veteran ... you will know him because of missing fingers and toes from the numbing cold," Johnson said.

Vietnam veterans who lost arms and legs to land mines also would welcome visitors, he said.

"Go and thank them all," Johnson said.

Wreaths were laid in front of the stone veterans memorial followed by a 21-gun salute.

Originally called Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson, the day celebrated the end of the fighting in World War I - on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill renaming the holiday Veterans Day in 1954.

On Tuesday evening, more than 230 veterans and their families crowded American Legion Post 211 in Funkstown for a program celebrating members of the armed forces, said Andy Mapes, Veterans Day committee chairman.

The attendees listened to a narration describing military actions involving U.S. troops up to the current mission in Bosnia.

The Smithsburg Chorus sang, paying tribute to each of the branches of service.

A bagpiper performed as part of a tribute to fallen veterans of all wars, said Mapes.

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