Carroll County News

Duty, remembrance, service and armistice

The warm afternoon sunlight shone through the tall windows of the Longwell Municipal Center gymnasium in Westminster, casting long ribbons of light across the shadowed wooden floor. The brilliant light caught the crisp white and red uniforms of the Post 31 American Legion color guard, illuminating the standards they carried to the head of the room for those assembled there for the Veterans Day ceremony.

There were about two dozen veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps at the ceremony. They stood as one to pledge allegiance to the flag and to salute that flag during the national anthem. They stood again to be honored when the song of each branch of the service was played in turn. Their families stood too, in recognition of the sacrifices made by those who stay at home and love a soldier.


The annual ceremony is always a sad time for Junior Fisher, who served in the Navy from 1944 through 1949 and then joined the Army, serving in the reserves until retiring in 1986 with the rank of sergeant first class. He has seen the number of veterans attending the ceremony diminish over time.

"It's pretty bad sometimes," he said. "When you go to them every year, they get less and less … You don't have too many World War II left any more."


Remembrance of those lost, and those who are lost in life, was a theme that keynote speaker John Sharp, the past American Legion Western Maryland district commander, struck. Addressing the fact that many veterans now fall into homeless as well as the sacrifices and struggles of veterans' families, he warned against those who would balance governmental budgets on the backs of veterans.

"Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation in the world. It is impossible to put a price on that," Sharp said. "Our debt to these heroes can never be repaid, but our gratitude and respect must last forever."

If there is a debt to those who have fought and returned from war, he said, then there is also a duty to ensure those who have sacrificed their lives are remembered and that their lives are not sacrificed for nothing. Nov. 11 was Armistice Day, a time for the nation to recall those who fought and died in the Great War, before becoming Veterans Day. In his opening prayer, Post 31 Chaplain Skip Amass recalled the treaty that closed the door on that conflict 96 years ago.

"The great powers came together to sign an armistice to end the war, the war to end all wars. Where so many were gassed and sacrificed," he prayed. "We ask dear God that we may soon learn our lesson, that never again. Amen."

Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or