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Service honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice

May 31, 2004|By SCOTT BUTKI

HAGERSTOWN

As the guest speaker at a Memorial Day program attended by about 60 people on Sunday, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner shared his memories of growing up during World War II.

Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 hosted the annual Memorial Day and wreath-laying ceremony in front of the Washington County Courthouse. About 20 groups laid wreaths on a war memorial outside the courthouse.

While Breichner and Chaplain Richard Hembrock of Boonsboro thanked veterans of all wars during their remarks, the focus of most of their words was on World War II.

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Breichner, 72, later said he focused on that war since it was in the news after the new World War II memorial was dedicated this weekend in Washington, D.C.

The memorial is long overdue, he said.

Veterans of World War II are dying at an average rate of 1,000 a day, he said. A friend of his, World War II veteran John Sagle, died Wednesday, he said.

Breichner enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 1952 and was honorably discharged in October 1954 after being injured in a boating accident, he said.

In his remarks, Breichner said he remembers the confusion in 1941, when he was 10, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He, like many, did not know where Pearl Harbor was, he said.

He recalls soon afterward seeing lines of people he knew enlisting to join the Army, he said.

He remembered aloud the changes during the war, from the blackout drills to the donation of aluminum products to the war effort, he said. People made those changes without complaint and when the war was over, everyone had the same goal of returning everything to normal.

But they should not forget that 400,000 people died in World War II, he said.

While the monument was late in coming, he hopes it will inspire future generations to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans made in the name of freedom, he said.

After the ceremony, Hembrock said Memorial Day always makes him think about all the good people he knows who have died in wars.

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