Gathered to remember

'We are free to stand here ... because these men and women gave their lives'

'We are free to stand here ... because these men and women gave their lives'

May 29, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Arlene Gipe paid tribute Sunday to her husband, a U.S. Air Force veteran, who is buried at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park.

There she honored the men and women who have died serving in the United States military during Cedar Lawn's fourth annual Memorial Day service.

Gipe was one of about 130 people gathered there - most holding small American flags or wearing red, white and blue.

Gipe, of Hagerstown, said she comes to the event each year. Sunday she was with her daughter-in-law, Carol Gipe, and her two sons, Dennis and Rodney Gipe, who both served in the military.


"I thought it was very special," she said. "The speakers and everything were so nice."

State Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, spoke at the service, thanking those gathered for taking the time to remember those killed while serving their country.

"We are free to stand here in these peaceful surroundings because these men and women gave their lives," he said. "By recognizing this important holiday, we are part of what makes America great."

Munson mentioned the newest generation of Americans to be killed in combat - those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We stand behind them all as they fight for our democratic values and safety," he said.

Maj. Cathy Hampton, who is retired from the U.S. Army and also a member of the Maryland Veterans Commission, was the second speaker. She began by saying that many citizens do not recognize Memorial Day as a time to remember those who died in military service, but rather as a day off from work or for shopping.

"(We need) to help reconnect the American people (to their history)," Hampton said.

She also read a proclamation from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Representatives from Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 placed a wreath during the service, and red, white and blue balloons were released into the air.

Gerald Bass, of Hagerstown, said he enjoyed the Memorial Day event, and said it was his first year marking the day at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park.

Bass, a Vietnam veteran, said he was beginning to pay tribute to the nation's service men and women again.

"I'm sort of getting back into it," he said.

Bass said he enjoyed Hampton's speech, and agreed that many people are forgetting about the sacrifice of the nation's military personnel.

"I thought it was very nice and very touching," said Barbara Hugus, of Greencastle, Pa.

Hugus, whose husband is buried at Cedar Lawn, attended Sunday's service with his parents. His father, Evan Hugus, served in World War II and Korea.

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