Towson Legion, Elks join forces for Memorial Day tributes

Towson resident Dwaine Garber didn't serve in the military himself, but he comes from a family of veterans. On Sunday, flanked by his wife, Tonya, and son, Matthew, 11, Garber continued a 20-year tradition of attending Memorial Day ceremonies

"I can take an hour out of my time to remember them," said Garber, dressed in his Sunday best, on the walk from the American Legion Towson Post 22's ceremony at the Wayside Cross to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial outside the County Courthouse, where the Towson Elks were holding their memorial service.

About 100 people lined the sidewalk outside the Towson Tavern on the corner of York Road and Shealy Avenue to remember those who gave their lives in service to our nation. Many of those in attendance have the annual ceremonies written in pen on their calendars.

Bill Staab and Judy Rorrer, both of Towson, said they try and go every year, and in fact often take in multiple Memorial Day ceremonies. Staab is a member of the Dundalk American Legion, and said he would probably also attend that post's ceremony in honor of his father, a World War II veteran who patrolled the shores of Key West, Fla.

"I really think everybody that protected our country should be remembered today," Rorrer said.

Sunday's Wayside Cross ceremony was attended by both elected officials and American Legion members.

Baltimore County government was represented by 5th District Councilman David Marks and 3rd District Councilman Todd Huff, as well as a representative from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's office.

State Sen. Jim Brochin and District 42 Delegates Susan Aumann and Steve Lafferty also spoke at the Wayside Cross ceremony.

Lafferty said Memorial Day is not just about remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but "looking to the future, to make sure America is safe for generations to come."

Rob Manzo, commander of Maryland's Northern Central district American Legions, and Melvin Smullen, commander of Department of Maryland, also gave remarks at the event.

The brief afternoon ceremony ended with a rendition of Taps by Towson resident and Elks Club member Frank Beever, for whom the holiday weekend will be a busy one. He was scheduled to play at a ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in Canton on Monday.

"It's all for the veterans," he said. "You don't want to turn anybody down if they need you."

As is the custom in Towson, the afternoon was shared between the American Legion and the Towson Elks.

After the ceremony at the Wayside Cross, the gathered crowded processed down York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue to the Vietnam Memorial.

There, more wreaths were laid, and remarks were given by Elks club members. Michael Lawlor also gave an update on a project born at last year's Memorial Day ceremony — a proposed monument for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on the courthouse grounds.

Lawlor said the group is in the process of creating a nonprofit to accept donations for the monument, but already have $10,000 pledged.

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