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Two Hagerstown residents talk about fathers' military service

John P. Donoghue and Kimberlee Smith speak at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park's Memorial Day Service

May 27, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Maryland Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington speaks Sunday at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park's Memorial Day Service in Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Standing among flags that at one time covered the caskets of U.S. military veterans, two Hagerstown residents talked Sunday morning about the respect and appreciation for the military they learned from their fathers, both military members.

“I’ve been truly blessed by my father’s military service,” Kimberlee Smith said.

“His military career gave me a solid foundation in life,” said Smith, who talked about her father, the late Air Force Master Sgt. Wilbur Mills, at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park’s Memorial Day Service. Smith, a member of Otterbein United Methodist Church, also led the prayer during the service at the cemetery between West Washington Street and National Pike.

“Although my father left (this) world at a young age, he’ll live on through me,” Smith said.

Maryland Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, talked about the influence of his late father, John J. Donoghue, who was a lieutenant commander and surgeon for the Navy.

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Donoghue, who was born on a Naval base, said one of his earliest memories of his father was when the elder Donoghue hoisted his son up on his shoulders as a hearse carrying the body of Adm. Bill Halsey backed into a Naval hospital inSt. Albans, N.Y.

Planning to follow in his father’s footsteps, Donoghue said he studied premed for two years when he realized the medical program was not for him and he called his father, expecting him to be disappointed.

“He wasn’t upset at all,” Donoghue said.

Instead, his father told Donoghue that he wanted him to be happy and that there were many ways to serve his country.

So, Donoghue said, he switched his major to American government in preparation for running for public office.

As a state delegate, Donoghue said he meets many children who visit the State House in Annapolis. Many of them know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem and “God Bless America,” but when Donoghue asked them if they knew the meaning of the pledge or the songs, many children didn’t know, he said.

“We need to be proactive,” Donoghue said. “To educate children to really understand what all of you have done for this country and this world.”

Williamsport High School sophomore Hope Wolford sang “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony, which was attended by more than 100 people.

On behalf of the Morris Frock American Legion Post 42, Marine Corps veteran Kellar Smith, of Hagerstown, placed a wreath at the cemetery’s war memorial.

As the ceremony ended, Terica Welch helped siblings Piper and Ryder Linn cut the ribbons to red, white and blue star-shaped balloons, sending them soaring into the sky.

The ceremony also included a poetry reading, echo taps, a military honor guard that fired the traditional three volleys and a performance by bagpiper Scott Schneider.

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