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Sharpsburg Memorial Day parade wreaths

May 27, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

It was a day of fun and of remembering the sacrifices of military veterans as somber morning wreath-laying ceremonies led to an annual afternoon parade that was part of Sharpsburg's 133rd Memorial Day Commemoration on Saturday.

While it did rain on their parade, spectators and participants alike said the weather didn't lessen their enthusiasm.

"We got drenched but it was fun," said 9-year-old Brittany Sines of Hagerstown, who marched in the parade with the Silver Starlettes, a color guard and majorette group.

Parade spectator Katelyn Eichelberger, 8, of Sharpsburg liked "the clowns and the candy." She was one of many children anxiously waiting those riding in the parade to throw candy into the crowd, a parade tradition.

Holly Changuris of Brownsville was attending her 23rd Sharpsburg parade.

"It's tradition," she said. "I like the small town and community. People who live in the city don't know what they're missing. ... There's always people you know in the parade."

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Hundreds of people lined Main Street to watch the school bands, majorette groups and politicians parade by. Parade announcer Roger Keller said that in the 132 years since the first parade, the parade was canceled due to rain once, and only one other year did it rain during the parade.

Earlier in the day, dozens gathered for two wreath-laying ceremonies to honor those who died while serving their country.

"Today we remember those who gave us the right to be free," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Wayne Lloyd, speaking at the ceremony in front of Sharpsburg Town Hall.

"We remember the people who died for us to be free," said Lloyd, who is the chief of staff for the West Virginia Air National Guard.

"It's important to remember the veterans who gave their lives for our freedom and to try to carry on how they would like to have us do," said World War II veteran Robert K. Brechbiel of Hagerstown.

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Fales spoke during the ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery.

Fales said if the veterans who died in the line of duty could speak now they would tell people to focus on family, freedom, service and remembrance.

"All good things start with a strong family," said Fales, who grew up in Hagerstown served in Panama, Kuwait and Somalia, where he earned a Silver Star.

"And family bears the weight of the sacrifice," he said.

"If our fallen heroes were here today they would not allow us to take (our freedom) for granted."

Fales encouraged the spectators to "get involved."

"Do your part," he said.

He said getting involved includes writing to elected officials and voting.

"And the fallen heroes would have tears in their eyes and say, 'remember me'," Fales said.

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