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'A day to honor those fallen in service'

May 29, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Orlyn C. Oestereich salutes during the national anthem Saturday on the square in Sharpsburg. The town held its annual Memorial Day remembrance. Oestereich is Maryland state commander of American Legion.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG -- Sharpsburg resident Brian Spielman said he wanted to make sure that his two young children attended the town's Memorial Day celebration Saturday.

As he and his son, Gavin, 5, and daughter, Abby, 7, sat on the porch of his father's Main Street home, Spielman said he believed it was essential for his children to learn the holiday's meaning at an early age.

"I want to teach them about the importance of our military and the veterans who fought for our freedom," Spielman said. "I want to make sure they're out here for the (ceremonies) to come."

Hundreds of people attended the Sharpsburg event, which began Saturday morning with wreath layings at Town Hall and culminated with a memorial service at Antietam National Cemetery at 3 p.m. In between, spectators gathered along Main Street to enjoy a parade that stretched across town.

Richard Click of Hanover, Pa., said he has spent Memorial Day in Sharpsburg for the past 15 years. He said he comes early to get a seat in the shade along the parade route.

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"This is a tradition," he said. "I've always came to Sharpsburg. It's one of the most pleasant things I've ever been around."

Several speakers talked in front of Town Hall about the sacrifices veterans have made to preserve America's freedom.

"Unfortunately, many Americans have forgotten the meaning and importance of Memorial Day," Mayor Hal Spielman said. "Memorial Day is a day to honor those fallen in service to our country. Today as you walk through the town and enjoy all of the festivities, remember why you are here celebrating with us today."

Klaus Fischer of Hanover, Md., was a guest of Sharpsburg resident Jeff Stouffer. They and many others gathered on the porch of Stouffer's 18th century home on Main Street.

Fischer, 63, said he was born in Germany and later became a U.S. citizen.

"Memorial Day means celebrating the basic beliefs that I have as an American," he said. "America is the only place that enjoys this type of freedom. There is no place like the United States."

Fischer said he served in the Army in the 1960s and had to take a test to earn his U.S. citizenship.

He said he believed that the current problem with illegal immigration should be met head-on.

"(My citizenship) wasn't automatic -- that's for sure," Fischer said. "Illegal immigrants coming to this country is just flat wrong. There are rights that are just hard earned."

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