Personal Journeys

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

October 26, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Home, for a soldier's heart and flag

By Lynn Gerber Smith

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

We were celebrating the Fourth of July and our son's 17th birthday by sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. We had picked Rock Hall, on the Eastern Shore, as a destination. Little did we know what a memory we would take back from that holiday weekend.

No trip to Rock Hall is complete without a ride on the town trolley. We boarded the trolley for the second time that day, and the driver asked the riders if we would mind a brief detour for a flag ceremony. We all agreed, and the trolley ventured from its regular course to a house with a flagpole outside. We all got off the trolley.

Gary, the trolley driver, explained the reason for the detour. His son, Christopher, a high school history teacher and Marine reservist, was the usual trolley driver but he had been deployed to Iraq. The son had bought an American flag on his second day there, but was not allowed to fly it in Iraq.

Christopher had hoped to bring the flag home by the Fourth of July to fly on the flagpole at his grandfather's house. His grandfather had died a few years before. When he realized he would not be home in time, he sent the flag to his parents with a letter.

As the trolley riders stood quietly around the pole, Christopher's mother began reading the letter. He wrote about how much he wished he could be in Rock Hall for the holiday, but more importantly, he wrote how glad he was for his memories of growing up in the town. His fondest memories, he wrote, were of early mornings with his grandfather, sitting at the table while "Pop-Pop" sipped coffee. Afterward, the two would go out and raise the American flag.

As we watched, Gary and one of his other sons took down the existing American flag, folded it and raised the flag Christopher had bought in Iraq. We all clapped, wiped tears from our eyes and reboarded the trolley. As the trolley returned to its route, my husband asked Gary about the second flag on the pole, which was a POW flag.

"Oh," Gary replied. "Pop-Pop was a POW in World War II." He escaped twice, Gary said, and was wounded, but was finally liberated from Stalag 17, a German prison camp.

Clearly, for this Rock Hall family, serving one's country is a tradition.

Although there has been some modernization over the past 25 years in Rock Hall, it remains a quaint, friendly town linked to its past.

Lynn Gerber Smith lives in Pasadena.

My Best Shot

Brooke Foreman, Timonium

Peaceful paddling

While riding the Acadia National Park bike trails in Maine in August, this couple kayaking on Eagle Lake caught my attention because the scene looked so peaceful. When I think of Maine, I think of kayaking, hiking and biking. Maine is one of my favorite vacation spots.

Readers Recommend

Senegal

Sara A. Holtz, Baltimore

In February 2002, I visited the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, located along the Senegal River, which creates a natural border between Senegal and Mauritania. Approximately 10,000 white pelicans migrate from Europe each winter and give birth to the black babies that turn white a few years later. I hope more people will start to think of West Africa as a tourist destination.

Nessebur, Bulgaria

Dorothy Krug, Baltimore

Located on the west coast of the Black Sea, Nessebur was once an important trading center between Asia Minor and Eastern Europe. It is now a popular spot for holiday travelers, with attractive art displays, craft shops, restaurants, a beach and a marina. Although it's not as famous as other cities on the Black Sea, it was one of the most attractive ports I visited on a cruise last summer.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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