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Words don't come easy for speaker in Chambersburg

November 12, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Standing before a sea of Marine red, Air Force blue, Army green and Navy white uniforms, the color faded from Army Maj. Michael Hoban's knuckles as he gripped the podium.

Asked to speak at Chambersburg's Veterans Day Celebration, Hoban found words remiss Saturday morning.

"There are no words, no trite descriptive words that can adequately express what veterans have done for us," he said.

As the red, white and blue waved in the autumn breeze, hundreds of people gathered at Chambersburg's Memorial Square to say thank you to area veterans.

"Today we say thank you, thank you to those of you who picked up the rifle, stood post and lived the creed that nothing is going to happen to America on your watch," Hoban said.

The morning began with a parade down Lincoln Way East. Charles Lucas, parade marshal and a retired Air Force intelligence officer, said the parade is a tradition spanning as far back as he can remember.

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"I don't know when it started, but I remember sitting there watching World War I vets march," he said.

For many of the veterans, the parade is a reminder to them and all citizens of the price paid by members of the armed forces.

"In a lot of countries, you couldn't have a parade like this," retired Army Sgt. Maj. Paul Coffman said. "So we must do it to make people aware that we are a nation that still has freedom thanks to these men and women."

While some marched for America, other vets marched for those who paid the ultimate price.

"We do this to honor our comrades who fell and are now with us in spirit," Army veteran Stewart Mullen said as tears welled in his eyes.

Speaking to the audience gathered around the square Saturday, Hoban not only offered his gratitude to veterans, he offered encouragement, saying those currently serving were continuing the legacy and living the warrior's ethos.

"The torch has not dropped," he said.

The parade marched from Fifth Avenue to Memorial Square, where armed forces veterans were honored with a wreath, a salute, thanks and applause.

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