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Joint Veterans Council holds annual Memorial Day ceremony

May 31, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cast a shadow Thursday morning when the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County held its first Memorial Day ceremony since the act of domestic terrorism.

"It just means more," Stanley Mitchell of the Marine Corps League in Hagers-town said afterward.

This year's ceremony, with its traditional wreath-laying and playing of "Taps," was "much different" in light of the attacks, said Charles E. Reeder, Washington County's representative on the Maryland Veterans Commission.

"If veterans don't keep this alive, no one will," he said.

Other events to honor Americans who died in war were held over the long holiday weekend, when Memorial Day was observed. But the Joint Veterans Council always conducts its ceremony on May 30, the official Memorial Day.

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The ceremony was held at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park in Halfway before a group of about 75 people, including elected officials, police officers and veterans.

Many stopped to console Patty Wibberley of Williamsport with hugs and handshakes. Her son, Seaman Craig Wibberley, was killed in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

"We appreciate your sacrifice," Carolyn Stetak of Downsville Pike told her.

Guest speaker Thomas E. Bratten Jr., Maryland's secretary of Veterans Affairs, lost an arm and a leg in Vietnam. He said he would do the same thing all over again even knowing what would happen.

Bratten recognized veterans of each of the country's wars, including the current war in Afghanistan.

Of the Taliban, Bratten said, "I think they're devious people. They use religion as an insult to my intelligence."

Of Osama bin Laden, Bratten said, "I hope he eats a hand grenade from the top end to the bottom end."

After the ceremony, Joint Veterans Council President Robert E. Glausier said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have not altered his view of the solemn day.

"It didn't change my feeling toward patriotism at all," he said.

We should celebrate Memorial Day every day, said L. Eugene Farley, chaplain of the Williamsport American Legion.

Glausier announced the Washington County government's tentative plan to add a monument in the Memorial Garden for those who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

A Memorial Day service was also held at Smithsburg Veterans Park on Thursday evening. More than 100 people attended the ceremony.

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