Dozens of veterans from all branches of the military were honored during the eighth annual Pasadena Business Association's Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 11 at the Pasadena Veterans Memorial.
Retired Army veteran Charlie Johns was stationed in Korea in 1963. He used a transport carrier he constructed to drive elderly veterans from the parking lot at the Lake Shore Athletic Complex to the memorial ceremony along Mountain Road.
Due to the contempt veterans faced when returning home from Vietnam, he's thankful he was sent to Korea.
"The reason I (give rides) is because I didn't have to go to Vietnam," he said.
Two of Johns' passengers were Leroy Zamostny, a master sergeant in the Korean War, and his wife, Millie.
With roughly 250 people in attendance, Pasadena Business Association President Doug Cashmere, a Marine Corp veteran, emceed the event to "honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice."
As a military brat, Cashmere remarked he made his annual visit to Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day to "say hi to dad."
Following welcoming remarks by Cashmere, the Navy Honor Guard of Fort Meade performed the presentation of colors. Afterward, the Chesapeake High School Chamber Singers sang the National Anthem from a raised platform.
In an act of solidarity, the massive American flag flown at the memorial was ceremoniously lowered and retired as veterans and service members made two parallel lines leading from the flag pole. They carefully stretched out the old flag as it was lowered, before folding it 13 times.
Cashmere explained to attendees what each of the 13 folds embodies, from the first representing the flag as a symbol of our life to the last which signifies the national motto "In God We Trust."
After the retired flag was removed and folded, a new flag was attached to the pole and raised.
Each flag costs $500 and purchased using donations from local families and businesses.
The original flag, pole and stone monument was donated in 1993 by Samuel Kemp a World War II Army veteran and Battle of the Bulge survivor. Kemp passed away last summer but his contribution to the memorial are remembered by PBA members and the community.
After raising the new flag, members of the Pasadena chapter of Chosen Sons Motorcycle Club placed a wreath at the veterans monument positioned in front of the flag pole.
Several of the Chosen Sons are veterans including Kirk Towner, retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, who has helped maintain the monument since 2006. He has also coordinated with fellow Chosen Sons members to organize bi-annual cleanups at the site.
The service continued with Glen Burnie Girl Scout Troop 10249 and Brownie Troop 1232 presenting thank you letters written by local elementary school students, coffee mugs, and "Proud to be a Veteran" stickers to every service member in attendance.
Troop leader Stephanie Cruz wanted her Cadets to attend the ceremony to show their support for the military. Cruz is a veteran and her husband is active duty, she said the event "touches home for me."
Scouts also help maintain the flower beds framing the memorial.
Cruz's 11-year-old daughter, Amaya, said she understands sacrifices made by service members because she, too, has endured deployments and long work hours.
During the presentation of gifts, veterans introduced themselves and stated when and where they served.
Pasadena resident and Air Force veteran Eugene Palumbo was overcome with grief as he introduced himself during the ceremony. Stationed in England and North Africa 1954-58, Palumbo said he was "emotional" speaking into the microphone because it reminded him of the friends he lost in the service.
He called the letters from the students "wonderful" and said the most meaningful portion of the ceremony, to him, was the playing of "Taps," by bugler Major Rick Barnes, which is performed at military funerals.
Army veteran and cancer survivor Frank Tracey, who was stationed in an outpost in North Korea during the Korean War, has been attending the event for several years. Tracey's girlfriend Patricia Tribett accompanied him to the ceremony. She said the event was "beautiful."
During the event, military memorabilia was displayed on tables; items from World War I to Afghanistan were presented chronologically by Pasadena resident Colby Burl.
The most prized items in his collection, Burl says, are Vietnam-era articles and photos of his great-grandfather, Herman Linderborn, a World War II veteran who served as a medic in the Air Force in New Guinea.
Burl, an Army National Guard member, has been collecting military memorabilia since fourth grade. Last year, was the first time he displayed his collectibles at the PBA-sponsored event. The organization invited him back due to the positive feedback they received.
"I really enjoy what is going on with honoring the veterans in this community," he said.
He's hoping to become a teacher and offers free lectures about military memorabilia and history to organizations in the community. For more information, call Burl at 410-972-8812.
PBA flag chair Lisa Hart said the Veterans Day ceremony has grown over the years from 20 attendees in its first year to nearly 250 this year.
The local organization began sponsoring the event in 2011; they partner with the community to organize the event and maintain the property. The memorial continues to expand, Hart helped secure two large guns installed on the property that are artifactual loans from the Army.
"I wanted a tank, but the county said no."
Hart said PBA is involved with organizing the ceremony "to honor our veterans in our community."
To make monetary donations towards bi-annual flag replacements, mail checks to PBA Flag Fund, P.O. Box 861, Pasadena, MD 21123-0861.
Share your Pasadena news with Atalie Day Brown at email@example.com