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Speaker urges residents to put memorial back in Memorial Day

May 28, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro's annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday morning included more than 50 units, said Kathy Shaffer, secretary for the sponsoring Combined Veterans Council.

The parade began on Main Street and CV Avenue, turned right on Broad Street and ended at Memorial Park.

"The spectating gets bigger (each year)," Shaffer said. "We, as the council, are grateful."

Among the units in the parade were the Army National Guard, Marine Corps, the Wayne Band, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Waynesboro Emergency Medical Services, the Waynesboro Area Senior High School marching band, Ali Ghan Shrine members driving tiny cars, fire departments from surrounding areas, antique cars and the Antietam Humane Society.

"I think it was very successful this year," Shaffer said.

A ceremony honoring past and present soldiers of the military followed the parade. Robert Harris, veterans services director for the Franklin County Office of Veterans Affairs, was the keynote speaker.

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"We need to put memorial back in Memorial Day," said Harris, who has been in his current position since 1992. "It's the day we memorialize those who paid the ultimate price."

For more than two centuries, many have followed the call to service and more than 2 million of those have died, said Harris, a disabled veteran who retired after 22 years in the U.S. Army.

"Let us remember those who put their life on the line for our freedom," Harris said.

Harris also said that more than 1,200 children in the U.S. have lost a mother or father in the conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Freedom is not free," he said.

The armed forces are "willing to fight and die for our freedom, our children's freedom," Harris said at the end of his speech.

Sherry Robins of Gettysburg, Pa., attends the Waynesboro Memorial Day celebrations each year.

"To me, this is the most heartfelt ceremony," Robins said. "This is so community-involved."

Alice Green attended the ceremony for a more personal reason.

"My father was one of the names read," she said.

Green's father, Philip Gettins, was a World War II veteran.

"I thought it was very nice. I really enjoyed Pat Heefner's poem," said Jack Reyer, referring to a poem read by Heefner, a member of the Waynesboro Area School Board.

The poem was from a newspaper column in 2001, the year Heefner's father's name was read at the Waynesboro Memorial Day ceremony.

Mayor Richard Starliper also spoke at the ceremony.

"Your presence at this event is to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day," he said. "We, in this country, owe a great debt of gratitude to those (who fought for our freedom)."

"It's always emotional," Debbie Wierman said. "You grow up in this area - you grow up being a patriot. My husband is now serving."

Henry Biesecker, who rode a motorcycle in the parade, attended the ceremony afterward.

"The ceremony was very good," Biesecker said. "The speakers all had pointed things to say."

Shaffer said 250 to 300 people attended the ceremony.

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