Vets forgo capital invitation for local dedication

Mt. Airy post to celebrate World War II memorial

May 28, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Despite living within an hour's drive of the nation's capital, many Carroll County veterans are declining invitations to the dedication of the National World War II Memorial tomorrow to observe the occasion with their comrades in familiar surroundings.

The American Legion Gold Star Post 191 in Mount Airy will mark the dedication with patriotic music, stirring speeches, honors for the post's 200 World War II veterans - with a reading of each of their names - and a 21-gun salute.

The personal touches for the veterans would be lost in the crush of the crowd of more than 200,000 expected for the dedication on the National Mall.

"The situation in Washington will be such that the true honorees who obtained tickets for that occasion will be far away from the memorial and the ceremony," said Arthur J. Brett, Mount Airy post adjutant. "Even those in the first section will have to watch the dedication on a large TV screen."

So the post has its own wide-screen, high definition television, on loan from a local shop. The crowd - as many as 400 are expected - can watch the service in Washington in the post's reception hall.

"There is great camaraderie and togetherness here," said Brett, a Korean War veteran. "We all help each other. That's what we did in the service."

Geoffrey G. Prosch, acting assistant secretary of the Army, will be one of two guest speakers at the town's celebration.

"I am honored to talk to the people of Mount Airy," Prosch said. "I hope to inspire them with history and talk about the sacrifices of soldiers today. I want to remind everybody to reflect on the sacrifices made."

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican who represents Western Maryland, will also address the crowd about what he calls "a long overdue" tribute to those who fought in World War II.

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