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Wall is a reminder of sacrifice

May 31, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - Veterans young and old gathered Wednesday afternoon to dedicate a memorial wall at the AMVETS Post 10 headquarters on Frederick Street.

The wall, which borders the sidewalk in front of the post, is built of bricks bearing the names of local and state veterans, living and dead.

The wall was the brainchild of former Post Commander Charles Reeder, who was a longtime member of the Maryland Veterans Commission. It honors some 565 veterans of every conflict since the Spanish-American War, according to current Post Commander Fred Shinbur.

Former Post Commander Jeannie Shinbur told those in attendance that the project was "3 1/2 years in the making." The memorial faces Frederick Street, she said, "where people go by on their way to work, on their way to school and to run errands" as a reminder of the sacrifices the veterans made.

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Outgoing Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary George Owings, keynote speaker for the ceremony, noted the group was dedicating the wall on May 30, the "real" Memorial Day. "But to some of us here today, every day is Memorial Day," he added.

"I used to get very angry on Memorial Day when people would see it as sales, pool openings and cookouts" rather than as a solemn commemoration for veterans, he said. "Then it dawned on me that that's what Memorial Day was all about - they died so we could be free to do all those things, because the price for that right had been paid."

Owings noted that members of the military are still making sacrifices - "this month, Maryland has lost four in Iraq," he said. "And they're all volunteers, I may add. May was the bloodiest month in the last 2 1/2 years of the war; 114 (U.S. troops) have died."

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., told the group that the bricks in the wall made the veterans' service more visible. People who "drive past this wall will see not just numbers; those are real people," he said.

Several state and local elected officials also were in attendance, as were representatives of a number of veterans organizations.

Jeannie Shinbur said veterans and their families purchased bricks for the wall for $35 each. Other fundraisers helped pay for the wall, and some work and materials were donated.

Fundraising was difficult at first, she said, but once work on the wall began, more people were interested in the project.

Fred Shinbur estimated $35,000 to $40,000 was spent on the project so far.

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