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Memorial Day event attracts veterans

May 26, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Ned Renner was just a teenager when he lied his way into military service in the 1940s.

He was 16 when he enlisted.

"I started when I wasn't supposed to be there," said Renner, 78, of Hagerstown. "It was patriotism that took a lot of us young people then."

It was patriotism that brought Renner and more than 50 others to a Memorial Day ceremony Sunday in front of the Washington County Circuit Court building in downtown Hagerstown. The annual event was hosted by Morris Frock American Legion Post 42.

Maryland Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, attended the event. Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and City Councilman Martin E. Brubaker also attended.

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Renner retired from the military in 1966, and said he never regretted his decision to enlist at such a young age.

"I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't served," he said.

Until he was in his 70s, Renner said he didn't attend Memorial Day events.

"But the older you get, the more you realize you did do some good," Renner said. "I only think about those who lost their lives and weren't quite as lucky as I am."

During Sunday's Memorial Day service, dozens of wreaths were placed outside the court building.

Philip Stotelmyer, 75, placed one of those wreaths on behalf of the Marine Corps League. He said he participates in the Memorial Day event each year.

"I think it's our duty, our honor to participate," he said.

Robert Everhart, with Morris Frock Post 42, was master of ceremonies for the Sunday event.

"It's for our veterans," he said. "It's to show respect and honor what they've done to protect our freedom."

David Hartung, 57, of Hagerstown, retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2000 after 31 years of service. Four generations of Hartung's family have served their country, dating back to World War I.

If he wasn't restricted by his age, Hartung said he still would be on active duty.

His son is serving with the U.S. Navy in Camp Bucca in Iraq. Hartung said his son's nine-month tour of duty will end in August or September.

"God willing," Hartung said.

Like many of those honoring fallen servicemen and servicewomen Sunday, Hartung said he supports troops currently serving their country.

"No matter what you think of the war ... I'm here to support the troops," he said. "The war stinks, but I support the troops."

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