'I thank God for the USA'

May 25, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- People gathered on folding chairs, blankets and doorsteps Monday for the Memorial Day parade that snakes down Main Street in Waynesboro each year.

Marie Lowman and Shirley Rienks donned red, white and blue for the occasion. Rienks, of Rouzerville, Pa., waved a small flag, while Lowman, of Waynesboro, held her white dog and saluted passing veterans.

"I came out today to honor our men and women who serve our country and are still serving our country," Lowman said.

"I thank God for the USA," she said.

Both said they feel Memorial Day is an important time to pay respect to veterans.

While Lowman and Rienks were honoring passing servicemen, many others were not doing so publicly. Terry Kriner said he's bothered when people don't salute or stand for the flag.


"I don't think it's getting any better," Kriner said when asked whether respect has diminished in recent years.

Kriner rode on the float dedicated to the U.S. Submarine Veterans' Tri-State Base chapter. One hundred veterans belong to the chapter, which covers portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

"Very few people know about submariners and what we do because we're not allowed to talk about it," said Doug Smith, chapter commander and district commander for Eastern Region North.

He said submarines comprised less than 5 percent of the U.S. Navy fleet in World War II, yet played a very significant role.

"Without submariners, World War II would've ended differently," Smith said.

Retired Adm. Bill Smith rode in a blue Chevrolet Bel Air sedan in the parade. Smith served as the guest speaker for Waynesboro Memorial Park's ceremony a decade ago and reprised the role Monday.

Smith, of Fayetteville, Pa., talked about ceremonies being conducted in cemeteries around the world and read the poem "In Flanders Fields."

"What a neat thing it is that people in a town like Waynesboro will get out and remember Memorial Day. That doesn't happen everywhere," he said.

Jack T. Duffey and Earl McCarney rode in the parade representing their roles as past commanders of American Legion Post 15. Both said they think about military sacrifices throughout the parade.

"I'm thinking about 50-some years ago when I was in the service," Duffey said.

"I'm thinking about the people who gave their lives," McCarney said.

The parade is organized by the Combined Veterans Council.

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