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Annual parade, service bring community members together

May 31, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Draft horses pull a circa-1900 hearse carrying a flag-draped casket during the Memorial Day parade in Waynesboro, Pa. The hearse is owned by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home in Waynesboro.
Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, PA. -- The participants in Waynesboro's Memorial Day made their way down Main Street in everything from sporty convertibles to draft horses.

Children and adults clapped, shouted, waved and saluted as veterans organizations, bands, churches, fire departments and dignitaries passed.

Stanley McIntire, a retired warrant officer from Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., joined the Cascade (Md.) Lantern Post 729, 29th Division Association, to continue its decade-long involvement in the parade.

McIntire said Memorial Day's role is "in remembrance of veterans and those in the service."

Al Brainard served in the U.S. Navy and makes a point to attend every Memorial Day parade.

"I think it's important to recognize the veterans, especially the ones who gave their lives," said Brainard, of Waynesboro.

Waynesboro Mayor Richard Starliper addressed the crowd that gathered in Memorial Park after the parade for a ceremony to honor the fallen. He said he fears many Americans don't feel connected to service members.

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"Many Americans today have not even met a soldier," he said.

Starliper told the crowd to find individual acts like fundraisers and Internet tributes to strengthen the military connection.

"We can start to repay debt (to fallen service members) by not forgetting what they did and what they stood for," Starliper said.

Retired Col. Steven Gonzales, who graduated from Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 1975, served as the keynote speaker for the Memorial Park ceremony. He told veterans they must re-educate and remind Americans of what Memorial Day means.

"Traditional observances of Memorial Day have diminished over the years," Gonzales said.

American Legion Post 15 Commander Daryl McClellan talked about the significance of a small table set for prisoners of war and those missing in action. He said the red rose bud represents the blood they shed, the lemon slice their bitter fate, and the salt the tears of their families.

"The chair is empty," McClellan said, looking at the black chair. "They are not here."

Also working with symbolism, Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home provided an antique hearse to carry an empty, flag-draped casket during the parade. The funeral home's original owner, Frank Grove, purchased the hearse in 1904.

Drawn by draft horses, the hearse hasn't been used regularly since the 1920s.

"In the early '90s, it was in disrepair and we sent it to the Amish. They restored it to the original condition," Jeremy Bowersox said.

The hearse was featured in parades a couple times before, always with the Frantz family horses, he said.

Waynesboro resident Helen Black said she would be watching her grandchildren participate with the Grace Baptist Church float. Church members handed out freeze pops.

"I like all of it," Black said of the parade. "I especially like the bands."

She met Doris Winebrenner, also of Waynesboro, at the parade. Both said they feel marking Memorial Day is important to celebrate freedom and what happened to secure that freedom.

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