A decision was made on a soggy Monday morning to cancel Greencastle’s Memorial Day parade and move the ceremony from Cedar Hill Cemetery to the Greencastle-Antrim High School auditorium.
By the time the program started, the sun was shining. However, more people attended the ceremony at the high school than usually go to the cemetery so changing the parade route and ceremony location next year will be discussed, according to Larry Pittman, commander of the Frank L. Carbaugh American Legion, which co-sponsored the Memorial Day activities with Harry D. Zeigler VFW.
Youngsters and members of the VFW auxiliary handed out small American flags as people of all ages wearing red, white and blue arrived for the ceremony, where Andrew Timmons and Benjamin Jansen of Cub Scout Pack 13 carried the wreath to the stage, the Greencastle-Antrim High School band performed patriotic selections and Pastor Robert Marsh of First United Methodist Church offered prayers.
“Without all of you, we wouldn’t be able to honor our fallen heroes in the manner that they deserve,” Pittman said, before introducing the speaker, retired Lt. Col. Dave Kelly of Greencastle.
Kelly spoke about the storied units he served with, including tours of duty in Somalia, Korea, Haiti, Japan and Operation Desert Storm.
“That is one of the many honors of serving in the military. Once you serve in a unit there is a bond with all members of that unit past, present and future,” Kelly said.
He gave highlights of each unit’s service, successes and sacrifices over the years. For example, he was commander of the 571st MP Company with the 7th Infantry Division in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. The division’s history dates back to World War I and its loss of 19 soldiers during Operation Restore Hope was documented in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”
“When you think back to the losses I have mentioned in just the few units I have served with added to the multitude of others throughout history, the question that has to come to mind is ‘Was it worth it?’ I can tell you service members do not question that while they are proudly serving their country and deploying as asked by our nation,” said Kelly, who also encouraged those in the audience to communicate with political leaders as they make decisions about using the power of the military.
Kelly said people can help service members “returning from combat every day with injuries and illnesses never before experienced” by supporting events like the Memorial Day ceremony and next week’s Operation God Bless America motorcycle ride and joining organizations like the American Legion and VFW.
“God bless you all, God bless our service members past and present and God bless America,” Kelly concluded.
“May the ceremonies of today deepen our reverence for our departed friends and comrades. Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag. Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism,” Pittman said as he brought the program to a close.