'Worth fighting for"

Two communities dedicate Mt. Lena veterans memorial

Two communities dedicate Mt. Lena veterans memorial

May 30, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD


One quiet night during World War II, at an outpost overlooking the Siegfried Line - at a time normally reserved for his thoughts about home - a stirred Roger Stottlemyer wrote a poem.

The U.S. soldier had heard news that American workers were going to hold a strike and halt weapons manufacturing.

"With pen in hand America dear I sit me down to write you here ...," begins the poem, dated Jan. 1, 1945.

On Monday, the Rev. Ronald Kurtz of Mt. Lena United Methodist Church read the poem to a group of Memorial Day observers who gathered at the small church near Boonsboro.


Stottlemyer, 84, stood behind Kurtz and mouthed the words as they were read.

"... Compare what you have with what you give, It's for the things you have that we care to live. Yet many of us will pay the price of death, so won't you sacrifice ..." the poem ends.

As part of the observance, the communities of Beaver Creek and Mt. Lena dedicated a veterans memorial - a large tombstone in the church's cemetery that faces Mt. Lena Road.

The Marine Corps League Bulldog Detachment Color Guard performed a three-shot salute, a bugler played taps and a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace." Stottlemyer sang a song, unaccompanied, that carried over the small crowd, though interrupted at times by cars racing at Mason-Dixon Dragway.

"I see a beautiful valley with a carpet of corn for the poor and I hear a voice within me whisper this is worth fighting for," Stottlemyer sang.

As many in the group went inside the small church after the service for refreshments, Vivian VanVoorhis stood up from her seat on the church stoop and patted a tissue to her eyes.

The 79-year-old woman lost a brother, Elvin Stouffer, during World War II. It was Palm Sunday in 1944 when her parents got the news that his plane was shot down, she said.

"There are too many memories," said VanVoorhis, a Mt. Lena native. "It doesn't get any easier."

VanVoorhis walked alone to the edge of the cemetery where Elvin's footstone and members of her family, including her husband, David, are buried.

Color guard member Philip Stotelmyer, 73, dabbed sweat from his forehead after the ceremony. Stotelmyer, who was at times shaky as he shouted out the commands to the guard, said, "I'm getting older. I'm not as fast, but I appreciate it. It's an honor to do it."

Stotelmyer said he fears that if his generation doesn't perform the ceremony, no one else will.

Roger Stottlemyer, who can count "five close calls" he had in combat, had fears of his own Monday.

He was worried the 20 pounds of steamers he made wouldn't be enough to feed the crowd.

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