Living, deceased veterans honored at county ceremonies

November 12, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • U.S. Army veteran Charles Lumm and students from Sharpsburg Elementary School, including fourth-grader Cheyanne Thacker, salute Monday during a Veterans Day program on the town's square.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Two women who lost their sons in Vietnam attended the annual Veterans Day ceremony in Sharpsburg on Monday, and an Army major who lost a friend in Afghanistan spoke at a Veterans Day event at Potomac Heights Elementary School.

Brigitta Ecton, 88, of Somerford, Md., who lost her son, Harry, in Vietnam in 1968 when he was 20, spoke at the ceremony in Sharpsburg’s Town Square hosted by Antietam Unit 236 American Legion.

“I am here today to honor him and thank everybody who is also honoring him” Ecton said. “He was proud to be an American soldier, and we live in a country that remembers our soldiers.”

Whylmenia Knight, 91, lost her son, Orville, in Vietnam, according to her daughter, Doris Schoumaker.

Both women were recognized as Gold Star Mothers and received white roses.

At Potomac Heights Elementary School, Army Maj. Laura Peters, 34, of Alexandria, Va., spoke during a ceremony honoring 1st Lt. Ashley White-Stumpf, with whom she served in Afghanistan and who was killed in action Oct. 22, 2011. Peters said the school supported her afterward and she presented it with a flag out of thanks.

“I carry the flag, in honor of Ashley, on all my missions after she was killed,” she said. “Ashley was my dear friend and my sister in our mission.”

Both Veterans Day events involved local students.

Americanism Chairwoman of American Legion Auxiliary Antietam Unit 236 Ava Gift, who helped organize the Sharpsburg ceremony, said it can help honor veterans and teach young people the importance of supporting them.

“They are here to lead us and taught to honor our veterans,” she said. “It’s important to teach patriotism.”

At the ceremony in Sharpsburg, fourth- and fifth-graders from Sharpsburg Elementary helped lead those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Boonsboro High School Chorus sang patriotic songs.

Sharpsburg resident Kate Prenger, 9, a fourth-grader at Sharpsburg Elementary School, said the ceremony was for all veterans, living and deceased.

“All the people not with us could look down on us and be proud,” she said. “People with us could still be proud. All of us are helping all soldiers in different places by honoring them, and they’re honoring us by fighting for us.”

The ceremony in Sharpsburg also included the presentation of colors by the 167th Airlift Wing, laying of wreaths, and an invocation and benediction.

At the Potomac Heights Elementary School ceremony, students watched a slide show of people related to the school who have served in the military, viewed a flag-folding presentation from Morris Frock American Legion Post 42, and listened to the presentation from Peters. Afterward, they went outside and released balloons carrying the names of veterans and service members from Potomac Heights families.

Potomac Heights fifth-grader Jayden White, 10, of Hagerstown, said she has multiple family members who have been involved with the military.

“This ceremony means a lot to me because I’ve had a grandfather, aunt and uncle in the military,” she said. “This says that the school wants to make sure that we understand how important honoring our veterans is.”

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