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'Guardians of freedom' remembered in Pa.

May 27, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here," words echoed Monday by Letterkenny Army Depot Commander Col. Steven Shapiro.

Lincoln was, in one respect, wrong. The Gettysburg Address is much noted and long remembered, as is the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in this nation's wars.

Memorial Square was ringed by veterans from five wars, bands and a few hundred onlookers Monday for the 140th Memorial Day, with some old soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines stiffening to attention for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"Since 1868, Americans have gathered to honor our fallen heroes," Shapiro said. "When others turned away, it was these heroes who were willing to stand up and be counted among the guardians of freedom."

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"We honor those who have fallen from Concord to Kandahar and from Antietam to Anbar," Shapiro said. In honoring those who died, Shapiro said the country should do so with its youth in mind, reminding them that the freedoms to worship, protest and speak their mind were bought at great cost.

As the veterans and bands marched closer to the square, the crowd thickened to a few rows deep along the sidewalks.

"Do you remember in the old days of the parade? It was six or seven deep," one man said before the start of the parade.

Ray Guillard Sr., 83, remembered when the crowds used to be bigger for the parade. Wearing a cap with the name of the cruiser USS Miami, he was attending with his son, Ray Jr.

The elder Guillard spent his part of World War II in the Pacific off dots on the map such as Guam, the Philippines and Okinawa. The cruiser received six battle stars during the war, but the worst punishment it took was from Typhoon Cobra, which Guillard said buckled the bow.

Even when no one is shooting, military life is dangerous. Guillard said the Miami lost a few sailors overboard during its service.

Across the square was Don Lehman, up from Tennessee for a funeral. He was born and raised in Chambersburg, but left to serve as a radio operator in the U.S. Air Force.

"They were all interesting, because I'd never been there before," Lehman said of the places he traveled in the military, including an overseas tour in Germany in the 1950s.

Near the end of the ceremony, honorary parade marshal Warren A. Britton fell, the Korean War vet's 77-year-old knees not being as nimble as they once were. He was quickly helped to his feet.

"I told him, 'You can't keep a good man down,'" veteran and former Franklin County Commissioner Samuel W. Worley said.

"I'm sorry I didn't catch you, but I was standing at attention," Shapiro told Britton.

"I fell at attention," Britton joked.

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