'Let us never forget'

Speaker: 'Memorial' in Memorial Day too often is ignored

Speaker: 'Memorial' in Memorial Day too often is ignored

May 28, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - For many families, the news came with a knock on the door by an officer in dress uniform.

Their loved ones had gone to war and weren't coming back.

Others did return to their communities - some to a hero's welcome, others to little or no fanfare.

What they all shared was an inner pride for defending their country, whether in battle or a time of peace.

The collective portrait of those who served their country was saluted Saturday morning at a special ceremony at Rose Hill Cemetery.

The program featured speeches, prayer and the mournful strains of bagpipes, all presented against a backdrop of American flags fluttering in a strong breeze.


"It's our way of recognizing all those men and women who have made sacrifices for this country," said Bill Divelbiss, executive vice president of Rose Hill Cemetery. "They deserve to be honored."

According to Divelbiss, the Memorial Day service is an annual event that began about 15 years ago.

"Memorial Day has become so commercialized," he said. "It's not about weekend sales and barbecues. It's a time to remember those who fought and died for our country. This ceremony is a small reminder of why we really celebrate this holiday."

Guest speaker for the service was retired Brig. Gen. Jean M. Shinbur, who served in the military for more than 28 years. Her final assignment, in 2003, was as the deputy district area commander for the District of Columbia Army National Guard. As a civilian, she currently serves as deputy for business operations for the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity in Frederick, Md.

Shinbur said Memorial Day is a day of mixed emotions - gratitude and sorrow.

"The nation will never overcome the loss of those who gave their lives," she said. "But because of their selfless devotion to duty, we enjoy freedom."

From the first colonial soldiers who took up arms in 1775 to today, "each individual who died was a loved one," she said. "It was a tragic loss to a family, a community and a nation. They all had dreams, but they put those dreams aside to protect our freedom."

Shinbur said the "memorial" in Memorial Day too often is ignored, and she encouraged adults to educate the younger generations about the importance of honoring those who served their country in the military.

"Let us never forget what they did and what they died for," she said.

Shinbur told the crowd that by attending Saturday's ceremony, "You're doing an important thing. By pausing for a moment of remembrance, you're observing the true meaning of the day."

Lenore Hess of Hagerstown said she has attended the ceremony at Rose Hill for the past several years and always walks away with a good feeling.

"It really fills you with pride," she said. "War is a terrible thing. But bless those who are brave enough to serve and defend our country."

The ceremony also featured the AMVETS Post 10 color guard, a rifle salute, a performance of taps and Rick Conrad on the bagpipes. Visitors also received small American flags.

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