Patriotism filled the air as the Memorial Day Parade marched from Pennsylvania Avenue to the Westminster Cemetery on Monday, May 28.
Droves of local residents and business owners lined the path to the cemetery. Outside Molli’s Cafe on Main Street, children waved their American flags at parade participants who played instruments or waved back — from antique cars, military vehicles or on foot.
Rita Palmer, a former Pentagon employee, followed the parade down the street with her husband Warren and family from where they live by McDaniel College. Memorial Day is special to her, she said.
“I just retired after 20 years,” she said. “I worked with the U.S. Army and then the Marine Corps. I was in the middle of 9/11 and everything, and when I see Marines I always go, ‘Oorah!’ ”
She pumped a fist and said, ‘Oorah!’ is different from ‘Hoorah!’ because it comes from your gut.
Warren Palmer said Memorial Day holds a place in his heart as well.
“It’s a reminder of the sacrifices that were made for us to have the freedom to be who we are,” he said. “I’m a defense contractor and I work a lot with the military. They’re the best people I know. This is their day.”
Palmer said he missed the Vietnam draft by one year and remembers how Vietnam veterans were treated when they came back.
“Our military serves at the behest of the politicians, and whether they want to or not, they have to do it,” he said. “They deserve our respect — that’s part of what this day means to me. No one can order me to go to a combat zone, but our men and women in the military women have to go.”
Among those participating in the parade were the Carroll County Young Marines, Veterans of Foreign Wars, U.S. Army, Disabled American Veterans, Westminster High School Marching Band, the 29th Military Police Company, Maryland National Guard, Carroll Composite Squadron, U.S. Civil Air Patrol, Winters Mill High School Marching Band, Westminster Sisters of the American Revolution, U.S. Army and Navy veterans, the Pipe Creek Civil War Roundtable, Carroll Christian Patriot Band, Carroll Christian Preschool, Arbutus Sailorettes, and more.
Maryland Sen. Justin Ready was also in the parade — holding a sign that said “Heroes don’t wear capes, they wear dog tags” — as well as Dels. Susan Krebs, Haven Shoemaker and April Rose.
Newcomers to the delegate race this year, Dave Ellin and Emily Shank; Doug Mathias, a county commissioner candidate for District 3; and George Psoras Jr., who is running for judge of the Carroll County Circuit Court also made appearances.
The procession led to the Westminster Cemetery where keynote speaker Robert L. Flinn, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, gave his memorial address and Phil Luster, chaplain of the Carroll Post #31 American Legion read Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and a poem he wrote with a veteran in 1975.
“We can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground,” Luster read from Lincoln’s address. “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” he said. “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” Luster said.
And Master of Ceremonies Bruce Main said the reflection and appreciation experienced on Memorial Day should become a part of every day.
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“On a day people affiliate with barbecues, cookouts, sales … we should take a moment — we should take a moment every day we enjoy life in the U.S. — to be thankful we have the right of dissent and our civil liberties,” Main said. “We owe [our veterans and fallen soldiers] for the ability to do that.”