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Franklin Co. residents meet at square to thank veterans

November 11, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

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    CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- For the last 91 years, America has honored its former defenders who bought peace, however fleeting, with their blood, sweat and tears.

    "You can say, 'thanks,' but it doesn't pay the bill for what they did," said Earl Burns of Chambersburg. "They did it because it was their duty."

    Still, when the clock struck 11 on the 11th day of the 11th month, residents from across Franklin County met again in Chambersburg's center square to say those two simple words, thank you. 

    Thank you for peace, said Charles Miller, commander of the American Legion post 46 in Chambersburg.

    Thank you for safety, said John Gow of Chambersburg.

    Thank you giving the full measure of devotion, said Ruth Miller of Chambersburg. 

    "I can think of no place, as a soldier, that I would rather be today," said Col. Cheri A. Provancha, commander of Letterkenny Army Depot and guest speaker at the ceremony Wednesday.

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Before Provancha stood a diverse mix of people. Some huddled in coats, waving miniature American flags or holding tightly to the hands of children. Others dressed in uniform, grasping canes for support, adjusting hats not worn for decades.

Whatever their story, connecting each person was one common thread: a veteran.

"My uncle, well uncles actually," said Burns. "He was in World War II in the European theater. His brother was also in World War II." 

"My father," said Ruth Miller. "He was in World War II."

"I'm here for my grandfather, he was a private in the Marine Corps (in) World War I," said Marcia Maddox of Chambersburg. Folded in her arms, the original canvas flag her grandfather owned since his time fighting in the War to end Wars. "I brought this out as a, kind of, 'Hoorah! Way to go guys.'" 

Ceremonies, like the one held in Chambersburg, with words of reverence, dedications of monuments and the playing of taps, are the least that can be done to repay these men and women, said Gow, an Air Force veteran of the Gulf War. 

In addition to the 11 a.m. ceremony, Chambersburg veterans organizations hosted a parade from Fifth Street to center square and dedicated a memorial to veterans of the Korean War.

As is tradition, Charles Miller said wreaths were placed at the veterans memorial on McKinley Street, the Vietnam War memorial on Courthouse Square and the Doughboy memorial at the fountain in center square. 

"Our nation owes a great debt to its veterans, whose service spans every decade and continues every day of our country's existence," Provancha said. "Through untold courage and sacrifice, America's veterans have secured liberty. Whenever and wherever the nation has called, in times of darkness and danger as well as in times of peace and prosperity, American veterans have been there. Today, we say thank you."

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