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A celebration of service to country

May 25, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Approximately half of the crowd of 100 stood at the stage when Dale Schroyer asked veterans to step forward during the Memorial Day service at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Schroyer, commander of American Legion Post 373, thanked the men and women for their service, then mentioned the veterans not standing there.

"A lot of them are laying behind us and in front of us, and in cemeteries across the country and world," he said.

Greencastle's morning parade ended at the cemetery, where several generations gathered for the service. Pastor Carl Grice, from Praying Time Ministries, started the service with prayer, after which there were patriotic songs, a wreath ceremony and a 21-gun salute.

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Amanda Almand, a 1997 graduate of Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High School, provided the keynote address. Almand spent six years in the U.S. Army, training as a linguist and serving in Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq.

"For me, Memorial Day is a celebration of what I hold important -- service to country," said Almand, who was with the 3rd Infantry Division when it became one of the first units to invade Iraq.

Almand said her own service gave her a deeper appreciation of the service of her father, father-in-law, husband, sister and uncle. She hopes the next generation can see the importance of their efforts.

"The legacy passed down by our great armed forces is honesty, respect, courage and great bravery. These are not just the qualities of our soldiers, but of our nation," she said.

Almand, who now lives in Virginia, said the best days in Iraq were the ones during which mail was delivered. Sometimes mail came from complete strangers, and other times it would contain the dark humor of her father-in-law, she said.

"I saved every letter I received during the war because those letters often served as inspiration," Almand said.

Almand witnessed medal ceremonies in which servicemen wanted little recognition.

"Instead, they talked about their fallen comrades. None of these men considered themselves heroes," she said.

John Davis of Greencastle said Memorial Day brings back a lot of memories of Korea.

"It means a lot more now, more so than when I was there," he said.

His daughter and son-in-law, Randy and Kathy Knoll, joined him at the ceremony.

"We wanted to support our vets and what they do," Kathy Knoll said.

Terry Murphy of Greencastle remarked that it was nice to see everyone gathered to pay tribute to those serving in the military.

"I'm retired military and we wanted to pay our respects," said Murphy, who was joined by his wife and daughter.

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