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Speaker pays tribute to fallen friend

November 12, 2005

Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class Daniel Watson told a group gathered at the Washington County Courthouse Friday that they, and every American citizen, "have given my life great meaning."

During a Veterans Day ceremony Friday on the steps of the courthouse, Watson, a U.S. Navy Seabee who served with a tactical movements team with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion in Iraq from September 2004 to March 2005, said he feels honored to be a veteran.

He said Veterans Day "has come to mean much more to us as more and more years pass by."

Watson paid tribute to his childhood friend, Ryan Brandt Young, who, along with three other contractors, was performing high-risk diplomatic security in Basra, Iraq, when a bomb destroyed the heavily armored vehicle in which they were riding on Sept. 7.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1936 color guard members stood at attention as about 30 representatives of veterans groups and local and state government took turns placing wreaths in front of the veterans memorial in front of the courthouse.


Dorothy Smith, chaplain of Morris Frock Unit 42, American Legion Auxiliary, said in her benediction, "Help us remember and never forget, we owe our freedom and have a debt."

'Heroes serve in every capacity'

U.S. Army Capt. Lara Brennecke shared military superstitions with those gathered at Smithsburg Veterans Park Friday for a Veterans Day service.

Brennecke, a West Point graduate, said that there was a superstition at her school that if "it rains during your acceptance day ... you're class is going to war."

It held true for her husband's class, she told the nearly 50 people gathered under a blue and white tent for the afternoon service. Brennecke, 25, who serves with the 6th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Group, at Fort Eustis, Va., told the group about her service at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait from September 2004 to September 2005.

She honored those who have served before her.

"Heroes serve in every capacity. As we speak, they are changing minds. I'm proud to be a part of this generation," she said.

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said there are about 24.5 million veterans living in the United States. She proceeded to break that figure down into those who served in different wars and spoke of the increasing number of women who are veterans.

She then asked veterans to stand or raise their hands to be recognized when she announced each war.

The Rev. Mark Mooney of St. Paul United Methodist Church said in his benediction, "Who are our veterans of today: They're teachers, doctors, those who bag our groceries ... They are our grandparents and our parents..."

He said that those gathered Friday were gathered to say just two words to those who have served, "Thank you."

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