Currently viewing the tag: "Memorial Day"

Richard D. L. Fulton

The multi-decade Veteran of the Maryland Army Reserve National Guard (MDARNG) addressed the attendees at the Monocacy Valley Memorial Post 6918-07, Harney, on May 28, concerning the significance of Memorial Day.

First Sergeant (retired) William Rosier told the individuals attending the Veterans of Foreign War Memorial Day Observance that millions of men and women have “given all” in the line of duty in service of their country since the American Revolution—up to and including the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.

Rosier noted that the first Memorial Day was held in the wake of the American Civil War in the South only a month after the end of that war.  Similar commemorations began to be held in other states as well. 

The special day received its first official name of Decoration Day, as ordered by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) General John A. Logan in 1869, because it had been a day when, traditionally, individuals placed wreaths and flags upon the graves of those who had died in the service of their country.  The GAR was an organization of former Union soldiers and sailors. The day was not officially known as Memorial Day until 1967 and became widely celebrated by that name in 1968.

Rosier also discussed the meaning of coins, often seen having been left on the headstones of Veterans. The first sergeant noted that the pennies seen were left by general visitors who stop by the graves. Nickels are left by Veterans who had trained in the same boot camp as the deceased. Dimes are left by Veterans who had served together with the deceased in some capacity. Quarters are left by those who were present when the deceased was killed.

In closing, Rosier said the number of those who have died in the service of their country is not just a number, “each one of those numbers was a person, a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, an uncle or an aunt, a friend or a neighbor,” adding, “They all had their dreams and hopes for a future never to be realized.”

Rosier, a Veteran of the Global War on Terrorism (having been assigned to Iraq), served in the Navy from 1970 through 1972. After a five-year break in service, he entered the MDARNG, Battery “A,” 2nd 110th Field Artillery, in 1977. He subsequently retired in 2010.

Post Commander Larry Harris presided over the observance services.  Opening and closing prayers were presented by Pastor Peter Naschke. Wreaths were subsequently posted at the Memorial Monument. The Post Honor Guard then fired a 21-gun salute, and bugler Kate Irwin played Taps.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Harney Post Commander Larry Harris (left) and First Sergeant (retired) William Rosier (right) at the recent Memorial Day event at the Monocacy Valley Memorial Post 6918-07.

Photo by Richard D.L. Fulton

On May 25, BSA Scouts T270B & G, Venturing Crew 270, Cub Scout Pack 270, and Girl Scouts placed flags on Veterans’ graves in honor of Memorial Day. 

Volunteers placed flags in 14 cemeteries in our local area. The American Legion Post 168 is not notified when a Veteran is placed in one of the cemeteries. Please contact veteranrecognitionpost168md@gmail.com to let them know about your family Veteran.

Kayla, president of Venturing Crew 270, honors Veterans during flag placement for Memorial Day.

Scouting troops in Thurmont honored our fallen military this past Memorial Day by placing flags on their gravesites and participating in The American Legion Post 168 annual wreath-laying ceremony on Memorial Day.

Thank you to Scouts BSA Troop 270B & G, Cub Scout Pack 270, Venturing Crew 270, and Girl Scout Troop 81178 for honoring our military so that they are not forgotten.

Deb Abraham Spalding

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free,” especially around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day, as a reminder of the sacrifice others have made to protect our freedom. This past Memorial Day, the official dedication ceremony of the Moser Road bridge and Trolley Trail foot bridge in Thurmont to two Thurmont Marines who were killed in action in Vietnam reminded those in attendance that there is a price for freedom.

The Moser Road bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor SGT Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh USMC. The Trolley Trail foot bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor PFC Charles R. Pittinger USMC. These two young men were raised in Thurmont, and upon graduating from Thurmont High School in the 1960s, each enlisted or was drafted into the United States Marine Corps.

They were both killed in action by wounds received from hostile forces in Vietnam. They gave their lives in service to our nation, for our freedom.

The signage that is visible from both directions as you approach the bridges will serve as an on-going opportunity for travelers to remember and give thanks.

At a luncheon hosted by the volunteers at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont, dedication ceremony host Gary Spegal, Frederick County Commander and Thurmont American Legion Honor Guard OIC, gave the official welcome to the dual dedication of the Trolley Trail foot bridge and the Moser Road bridge spanning over Big Hunting Creek in Thurmont.

Commander Spegal said, “Read the names, reflect, and consider the sacrifice for the values that these two men fought for and died for. They inspire all of us to pray for our country’s leaders to seek peaceful settlements to our disputes.” He added, “One of the things our nation could have done better is welcoming home our Veterans who fought in Southeast Asia. It’s been half a century and their legacy has faded.” Locally, the bridge dedication will be a reminder to those who pass.

Thurmont’s Mayor John Kinnaird said, “The memory of the day when news arrived about the deaths of both Charlie and Woodie sticks clearly in my mind. I think it is appropriate that these bridges be dedicated in their names today. Bridges physically transport us from one point to another, but these bridges will now take us back in time. Each time we cross these bridges, we will remember Charlie and Woody…as the local boys we knew as family, neighbors, and friends…and the sacrifices these young men made for our community and our nation.”

On the bridge site, Ella Renner, the American Auxiliary Jr. Unit 168’s Poppy Princess, assisted Unit 168 Poppy Chairperson Angela Spegal to install red poppy flowers on each of the sign posts. The red flower of the poppy represents the blood of our fallen.

Deacon John Hawkins provided the blessing of the bridges. “Chewy,” a Veteran memorial vehicle, sounded the guns in salute.

Attendees moved from the official dedication location at the bridges to the ceremony location at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont.

Here, Scouts of Troop 270 Color Guard performed the Presentation of Colors.

During this touching ceremony, music was enjoyed, attendees sang the Marine Corps Hymn, and several people shared fond memories.

Sandy Seidel, mother of 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, presented a print of Robert’s poem “War” that was written in honor of Charles Pittinger to the Pittinger family. As an elementary-aged boy in Emmitsburg in the 1990s, young Robbie Seidel, learned from his uncle Larry Pittinger, about another uncle, Charles Pittinger, who had lost his life in Vietnam. He wrote the poem “War” in Charles’ honor. Little Robbie later became 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, who was killed in action while serving our country in Iraqi Freedom in May 2006.

Sgt. David Carter USMC traveled from Morristown, Tennessee, to the ceremony to talk about his tour with Sgt. Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh. He said, “His tour of duty ran parallel with mine. I met Frank in January 1967. We received orders together. I will never forget him. He was the most Christian man I have ever known. A man of great character.”

Larry Pittinger, representing his brother John and sister Ann, spoke about their brother PFC Charles R. Pittinger. He shared that in preparation, American Legion Cmdr. Gary Spegal gave him a project to locate photos and memorabilia to display at the event.

Larry said, “For me, this request is the most rewarding part of the past eight months. Because of this request, photos that were packed away were unpacked and enjoyed again. Letters written more than 50 years ago were re-read. Through these letters, I learned of Charlie’s plans to buy a Corvette when he returned home. In a follow-up letter, he said that he may have to switch to his plan B, which was getting his ’57 Chevy on the road because of a change in the State of Maryland’s insurance rates.”

Larry continued, “He wrote of his frustration of walking through about four inches of mud to return to the base camp while carrying the M79 that was nicknamed the “Blooper” and carrying other gear that almost weighed as much as himself. Next, I found a website for Lima 35. Some of these Vets called me and shared their personal experiences. I am not a military Veteran, but after talking to these four Marine Vets, I have a deeper understanding of the kinship and the bond Veterans have for one another. To all Veterans, thank you for your service.”

“Thank you all for honoring my brother PFC Charles Robert Pittinger.”

The ceremony closed with the Benediction by Deacon John Hawkins and the Retirement of Colors by Scouts of Troop 270.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding

The Moser Road Bridge named in honor of Sgt. Carbaugh.

John Kinnaird

Memorial Day means many things to many people. To some, it is the first weekend of the summer; to others, it’s a day off to spend with the family.

To Joe Keller of 107 East Hammaker Street in Thurmont, Memorial Day is the day to remember his brothers in arms who died in action while stationed with him in Vietnam.

Joe has erected a moving memorial to his fallen brothers and has the names of each one on display. I stopped to visit with Joe the afternoon of Saturday, May 23, and it was a moving experience. He knew each of these guys and reminded me that his friends and each one of the 58,220 who died in Vietnam had a name and a story. So often, we hear the number of soldiers killed in action but seldom do you know their names or anything about who they were.

I remember watching the evening news in the 1960s and seeing scenes of battle from Vietnam and hearing the daily casualty lists. I left Joe’s house this afternoon with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifice each of those men and women made on our behalf.

Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day and reaches back to before the Civil War. Soldiers graves are decorated with flowers or flags so their memory will be carried on to the next generation. Joe is making sure his brothers are remembered and honored for their service and sacrifice.

I encourage each and every one of my friends to take a drive past Joe’s house and experience this moving memorial for yourselves. If you see Joe there, stop and say “Hi.” Take a minute or two to hear a little about the American Heroes and the personal friends Joe is honoring.

John Kinnaird stands with Joe Keller in front of Joe’s memorial to his fallen brothers.