Bel Air observes Memorial Day with moving ceremony

Bel Air's Shamrock Park was filled Monday morning, with residents lounging under trees to observe another Memorial Day at the park's War Memorial.

American Legion Post 39 past post commander Richard Gebhard welcomed the crowd, following the placing of colors by the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America, national anthem and invocation by Rev. C. Douglas Kenney, of St. Margaret Parish in Bel Air.

Once a year is not enough to remember fallen military man and women, whose families are reminded every day, Gebhard said.

"It is never over," he said. "Missions may end but their legacies and the pain left endure."

The ceremony also included an address by Maj. Gen. Marianne Mathewson-Chapman, in which she said Americans in uniform were "true battle warriors."

A student from Southampton Middle School, Andrew Frailer, spoke as well, having won an essay contest in conjunction with the annual town observance.

Andrew, too, said military men and women should be honored every day and called Memorial Day at time to remember veterans preserve them through memory.

The honor guard for the ceremony was Harford County Detachment 1198 Marine Corps League, which also a gave a rifle salute.

The American Legion Post 39 Auxiliary placed a poppy wreath and honor wreaths were placed for the same American Legion; American Legion Post 55; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Bel Air Disabled Veterans Chapter 30;Vietnam Veterans of America, Harford County Chapter 588; Military Order of the Purple Heart; WAC Veterans Association of Maryland, Free State Chapter 70; Sons of the American Legion, Squadron 39; Marine Corps League 1198 and Civil Air Patrol, Harford County Squadron.

Throughout the ceremony and beforehand, attendees enjoyed the Bel Air Community Band as they celebrated Memorial Day.

Mary and Larry Whiting, of Bel Air, not only enjoy the music and the wreaths, but paying tribute to veterans.

Both of their fathers served in the military, Mary Whiting said, as well as a cousin who was recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We just appreciate everything the military does for us and the least we can do is sit out in the hot weather and support our troops," she added.

Not only did Guy Walsh serve 37 years in the Air Force and Maryland National Guard, but his wife, Ann, also said Monday that their son is currently in the Air Force Academy.

Guy Walsh, of Bel Air, has spoken at previous Memorial Day events but came this time as a visitor. He praised Gebhard, saying he includes a "little bit" of everything and put on a "family oriented" event.

For Guy Walsh, the ceremony allows him to be part of the local observance and to give thanks.

"It's basically thanking all of our American military for what they've done and especially to recognize those who gave their lives for our country," he said.

Bob Gross, of Bel Air, also served in the Air Force for 28 years, in active duty and reserves. His wife DianaMonaco'sson is in the Air Force as well, Monaco said.

For the couple, Memorial Day is to thank all of the people who have protected American freedom, Monaco said.

"Memorial Day is an important day to remember all of those military people who gave their lives," Gross said, "the ultimate sacrifice."

Another Bel Air resident, Wendy Wright, attended the ceremony Monday not just to support her father, who served in the military for 31 years, but her husband, who is currently serving in the Air National Guard. As for attending Memorial Day celebrations, Wright said she did so to show her thanks.

"It's my way to show all the people, men and women, that have done their part for our country, my gratitude," she added.

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