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Ceremony gives pause to motorcyclists, drivers

May 25, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

MOUNT LENA -- On one side of the country road, three dozen veterans and other patriots gathered Monday morning at Mount Lena United Methodist Church for a reverent outdoor Memorial Day service at the small, stone country church.

Directly across the road was a bumper crop of motorcyclists and race-car drivers enjoying a three-day holiday weekend at Mason Dixon Dragway.

But a strange thing happened as the ceremony began with patriotic songs, the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag, playing of taps and the laying of wreaths at the memorial erected four years ago at the church.

Several motorcycle riders slowed as they approached the curve near the church. A few even stopped, took off their helmets and could be seen watching the ceremony.

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Some of the race-car drivers did the same.

Pastor Ray W. Dudley and a number of the veterans attending the ceremony noticed and took it as a good sign.

"The younger generation needs to remember," said Vern Brintzenhofe, a World War II veteran and current national president of the 4th Marine Division Association.

Brintzenhofe and nine other veterans stood and were recognized during the ceremony hosted by the Mount Lena/Beaver Creek community.

Cindy Hoffman explained that the Memorial Day ceremony was conceived four years ago by her uncle, Ray Hoffman.

"He thought it would be nice to have a memorial at the church and a ceremony," she said. "He got us together."

Through donations, a memorial stone was erected in front of the church that first year. On Monday, World War II veteran Roger Stottlemyer placed a wreath at that memorial.

Dudley led the group in recognizing the veterans who gave their lives to preserve the freedom of Americans. Then he pointed out the veterans at the ceremony who survived and their families.

Evelyn Stotelmyer said she comes to the ceremony every year. Her husband, Phil Stotelmyer, was attending a veterans program in Chambersburg, Pa., on Monday.

"It is so very important to remember," she said.

One of the older veterans attending Monday's ceremony was Harold Martin of Boonsboro, who served with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.

"All of my belongings are at the bottom of the Coral Sea," Martin recalled.

His ship sank during a military operation there, but he said he was thankful that he was able to escape with his life.

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