Selfless service honored on Memorial Day in Greencastle
Those from the Greencastle-Antrim community and across the nation who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States were remembered during a Memorial Day ceremony May 31 at Greencastle's Cedar Hill Cemetery.
"Greencastle is like many small towns across America in that it, its sons and daughters have answered when the nation has called to go and fight for our freedoms," said Col. Keith D. Hockman of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, the featured speaker.
"Our nation is indebted forever to our fallen service members, and by continuing to reflect on the true meaning on Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and vow never to forget those who served and sacrificed everything for America."
'War and future peace'
Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. spoke before Hockman and reflected on the names on the veterans memorial outside borough hall, which honors those who have lost their lives from the Revolutionary War through Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner, killed in action in Afghanistan 10 years ago on April 23, 2011.
Thomas highlighted Frank L. Carbaugh and the poem he wrote about "war and future peace" as he was dying in a hospital in France after being wounded in the second Battle of the Marne during World War I.
Greencastle's American Legion Post 373, which co-sponsored Monday's ceremony with Harry D. Zeigler VFW Post 6319, is named in Carbaugh's honor.
On his deathbed, Carbaugh wrote:
“The Fields of the Marne”
The fields of the Marne are growing green,
The river murmurs on and on;
No more the hail of mitrailleuse,
The cannon from the hills are gone.
The herder leads the sheep afield,
Where grasses grow o’er broken blade;
And toil-worn women till the soil
O’er human mold, in sunny glade.
The splintered shell and bayonet
Are lost in crumbling village wall;
No sniper scans the rim of hills,
No sentry hears the night bird call.
From blood-wet soil and sunken trench,
The flowers bloom in summer light;
And farther down the vale beyond,
The peasant smiles are sad, yet bright.
The wounded Marne is growing green,
The gash of Hun no longer smarts;
Democracy is born again,
But what about the troubled hearts?
Carbaugh died Aug. 1, 1918, and his remains were buried in France, before later being reinterred in Cedar Hill Cemetery, just down the hill from where Monday's ceremony was held.
A shrine to all who gave their lives
Hockman also spoke about the graves of veterans, first talking about the history of Memorial Day. It was originally observed after the Civil War and called Decoration Day, as families decorated the graves of their lost loved ones with flowers or flags, a tradition that continues today.
For Memorial Day 2021, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, nicknamed "The Old Guard," placed small American flags at every grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 are buried.
"Each of those individuals has a story to tell," Hockman said. "Some of those stories we will never know."
He talked about efforts to bring remains back to the United States following World War I and the difficulty in identifying some of the fallen, leading to first burial at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 100 years ago.
"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to memorialize those who died in World War I, but it has since come to symbolize American wartime fatalities more generally," Hockman said. He called it "a multigenerational shrine that honors all those who gave their lives in all American wars."
Hockman said, "This Memorial Day, I hope that we can remember the link we have with all the generations that have gone before us who selflessly served our country and paid the ultimate price. From the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq back to the American Revolution, our soldiers continuously put the welfare of the nation, the Army and their fellow soldiers before their own.
"It is a reminder of the true cost of war, and a reminder to honor those who died while answering the call to serve our nation. Today, we pay special tribute to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price."