Saluting veterans of all our centuries

May 27, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN-Rose Stevens paused in deep thought as she leaned against the trunk of a tall pine tree at Rose Hill Cemetery.

As a soft breeze fluttered the small American flag she was holding, Stevens wondered about the soldiers buried a stone's throw away.

Known as Washington Confederate Cemetery, it is the final resting place for more than 2,000 men who fought in the battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Gettysburg and Hagerstown.

For the occasional student of the Civil War who ventures into this shaded section of Rose Hill, there are no headstones to conjure up images of those who are buried here.


But still, Stevens tried to picture what their lives were like, the kind of people they were.

The muster rolls of their regiments probably found them to be ordinary individuals, the Hagerstown resident said. Some were married, some not, some with standing in their community, others from modest means.

Nothing in their brief lives hinted that in death, they would become honored figures in American history.

On Saturday, those soldiers, along with all American veterans, were honored during a special Memorial Day service at Rose Hill Cemetery.

An annual event, the ceremony is a way to recognize people who have lived through wars and those who have sacrificed their lives, said Bill Divelbliss, executive vice president of Rose Hill.

"Too many people have forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day," he said. "It's not about sales or picnics. It's about honoring those who have fought for our freedom."

"War is a terrible thing, but sometimes it's necessary," Divelbliss said. "By holding today's ceremony, we're letting our veterans know that they're heroes and we haven't forgotten them."

Guest speaker for the morning ceremony was Retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Fred L. Shinbur, who told the audience that "all too often, we take for granted the privilege we have of living in a free country."

Every day, but especially on Memorial Day, he said, "We should pause to honor those who fought for our freedom, who stood between the enemy and us, liberty and tyranny."

The ceremony also included the AMVETS Post 10 color guard, a rifle and cannon salute, and the mournful strains of taps.

As part of Saturday's observance, Rose Hill hosted the Stone Mountain Raiders, who provided a living history of the Civil War.

The re-enactors, who pitched their tents near the Washington Confederate Cemetery, offered an interpretation of the Civil War through stories and demonstrations. The group will remain at Rose Hill through this afternoon.

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