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Brig. Gen. Charles W. Lyon thanks veterans

Smithsburg High grad gives keynote address at Hagerstown ceremony

Smithsburg High grad gives keynote address at Hagerstown ceremony

November 11, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

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HAGERSTOWN -- Albert Rauth said he and his 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Harmony Mae Miller, have attended every Veterans Day ceremony in Hagerstown since she was born.

Rauth, 61, of Hagerstown, said children need to understand the importance of Veterans Day so the sacrifices of those who served in the armed forces are never forgotten.

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"She's gotta see what it's all about," said Rauth, who served as an Army medic in Vietnam. "The reason we did all of this is for little girls like her."

Rauth, Harmony Mae and about 100 other people attended the hourlong ceremony in front of the Washington County Courthouse. They stood in the cold rain as several speakers lauded veterans who served during combat and peace.

Most of the attendees were senior citizens. Some wore their old uniforms, while others donned the colors of their respective veterans organizations.

Smithsburg High School graduate and Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles W. Lyon gave the keynote address. He thanked the veterans who not only saw combat, but the ones who risked their lives to provide humanitarian aid to the needy of the world.

Lyon said the world changed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, he said, the military has protected the United States and its allies from extremists who want to destroy equality and freedom.

"Freedom here makes us the envy of the world," Lyon said. "We choose to educate our daughters and sisters equal to our sons and brothers."

A number of organizations placed wreaths at the veterans memorial in front of the courthouse.

The ceremony, held by Morris Frock Unit 42 American Legion Auxiliary, also recognized veterans of World War II, who are dying at the rate of 8,000 per day.

Hagerstown resident Julius Light said he served in the Army in Germany shortly after World War II ended.

Light, 82, said his unit searched buildings in southern Bavaria to ensure Germans didn't have Nazi paraphernalia, such as photos of Adolf Hitler. He said they never found anything suspicious except for a cow on the second floor of a house.

"We let her up there," Light said.

He said he agreed with the theme of a speech during the ceremony in which Hagerstown City Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said "not enough people take time enough to reflect what this day honors."

Light said he believed schools are failing to teach the importance of the wars that America has fought and the veterans who fought them.

"I think all of our wars and history should be taught in our schools," Light said. "It's a shame."

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