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Veterans Day a time for area veterans to remember service

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For almost 200 years, members of Fred Roussey's family have served in the United States Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

"Everything but the Air Force," the Catonsville resident said.

His family's long line of service dates back to the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

Two of Roussey's sons are continuing the tradition. Chris, 27, is a sergeant in the Army National Guard and David, 26, is a petty officer third class in the Navy.

On Veterans Day, Roussey and his wife, Charlene, usually hold a family cookout and place poppies on the graves of Roussey's father, grandfather and uncles.

But this year, both sons will not be in town to take part in the tradition

Chris was recently called to active duty from the reserves and is in Mississippi waiting to hear if he is headed to Afghanistan.

David is on duty in California.

"We'll send the boys cards," their father said. "And we'll be thanking veterans everywhere."

His sons' absence from home is all the more reason to honor them, and other U.S. veterans around the world, this Sunday, Roussey said.

"I'm very proud of my boys," said Roussey, an Army veteran himself. "I'm proud that they have chosen to serve"

The Rousseys are among many Catonsville and Arbutus residents thanking and remembering servicemen and women this Veterans Day.

At the Charlestown retirement community, veterans will hold a multi-faith service on Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. in the Our Lady of the Angels Chapel on the Maiden Choice Lane campus.

"We remember those who helped us and served us," said Walter Yienger, a Charlestown resident and commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Dr. Charles B. Frank Post 219. "It's very simple. We honor our past and present."

Charlestown residents who are World War II and Korean War veterans, as well as World War II military nurses, are expected to attend, said Yienger, a World War II Army Air Force veteran.

The service is open to the public and will include prayers, songs, a presentation about veterans and a reading of "For Love of Country," a poem written by John Strumsky Jr., a Charlestown resident and Marine veteran.

It's important to remember veterans who are still alive, as much as those who have passed, Strumsky said.

In World War II, about 7.5 percent of the population served in the U.S. military, he said. Today, it's less than 1 percent. Even though fewer people are serving now than 70 years ago, the country still has troops working here and abroad to protect its freedom, he said.

"Most people don't realize the United States is still in the midst of the longest running war it's ever been in," Strumsky said of the war in Afghanistan.

Other military members have "scars that they can never shake," like lost limbs on mental illness, Strumsky said.

"Ninety-nine and a half percent of Americans never see that," he said. "They should at least pause and reflect and remember and pray for those who are defending them and protecting their way of life."

Arbutus native George Sigler, 26, twice served in Iraq as part of the Marine Corps and planned to honor the day at the University of Maryland where he is a student on the College Park campus.

On Nov. 3, the university recognized its veterans, including Sigler, on the football field during halftime of the Maryland versus Georgia Tech game.

The university also held a reception in the veterans lounge inside Cole Field House.

Sigler echoed Strumsky's sentiments about Veterans Day.

"A lot of people just take it as a day off work," said Sigler, who is studying criminal justice. "There's a disconnect between the civilian and military population."

While in Iraq, Sigler quickly moved through the ranks to become a logistics officer, managing billions of dollars of equipment.

No longer on active duty, he said he misses the camaraderie he found in the Marines.

This Veterans Day, Sigler said he hopes Americans will take time to remember the commitment and sacrifices made by vets in all branches of the military.

"The military is a continuous thing," he said. "People need to keep it in their minds."

The Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville will open a new Veterans Service Center Nov. 8, giving veterans a place on the South Rolling Road campus to connect with their peers and explore college and community resources.

The center will also be a base for the college's new Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program, which offers mental health services to student veterans and special educational workshops to faculty and staff through a partnership with the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System.

To celebrate the opening, the college will host an opening ceremony and reception tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m.

For information or to attend, call 443-840-4307.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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