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Martinsburg honors American soldiers' sacrifice

May 27, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- "They were colonial patriatos at Trenton, Lexington and Concord;

"they were brother pitted against brother at Antietam and Gettysburg;

"they were doughboys fighting the Huns in stinking trenches across Europe;

"they were the greatest generation, sacrificing thousands of its youth, defeating fascism, which had nearly engulfed the world in darkness;

"they stood lonely vigil around the world for over 40 years to defeat communism, to win the Cold War and bring down a wall in Berlin;

"they fought in the snowy mountains of Korea, though too often forgotten;

"they fought in the steaming jungles of Vietnam though seldom appreciated;

"they fight today in the mountains of Afghanistan and the sands of Iraq to defeat a threat too often underestimated and misunderstood."

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Retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Guinan took a deep breath. As the silience rustled through the trees during Monday's annual Memorial Day service at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg, the sun stretched across the names etched in sacrifice on the granite monument to American history.

"They were our fathers and mothers, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends. All gave some and some gave all and they all knew one thing: Freedom isn't free," Guinan said.

Martinsburg honored the American soldiers who paid the ultimate price for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yet for those who lost loved ones to war, the price of sacrifice can never be repaid.

Clotilde Ferguson of Martinsburg said to call Memorial Day a day of celebration does not do the holiday justice.

"This is one of the most important holidays," she said. "To say I celebrate this day is not a strong enough word. I honor this day."

Those gathered at War Memorial Park came in memory of those they loved and lost, but one name was honored above all others.

Staff Sgt. Stephen A. Seale gave his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As his parents placed a wreath of flowers on the memorial for their son, the crowd stood in salute.

Seale, 25, of Martinsburg, died Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee while he was conducting combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.

We must remember all those who were lost, by supporting those who live, said Karl Roher of Hagerstown.

"By the grace of God, I survived (war), and all I ask is that you remember us," he said. "Remember."

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