Arbutus Legion Post 109 hosts annual Memorial Day ceremony

Veterans' service and sacrifice remembered

May 30, 2011|By Keith Meisel,

The annual Monday morning ceremony in Arbutus honoring America's veterans lasted less than 30 minutes.

But for some in the small crowd that gathered May 30 near the flag pole at the intersection of Oregon and Carville avenues with Sulphur Spring Road, the service took them back years.

"I think about all the boys we lost over there," said Nick Brocato, who served in World War II and is a 15-year member of American Legion Dewey Lowman Post 109 that sponsored the event.

That sense of loss was shared by Arbutus resident Steve Thaxter, who has attended the event every year since moving to his home on Carville Avenue in 2004.

Thaxter had stood against the wall of the Hollywood movie theater with his young daughter Kylie, 5, listening to a medley of songs by Cass Schreiner and short speeches by leaders of the Arbutus Legion Post during the 25-minute ceremony.

"We owe it to the soldiers," said Thaxter, a 22-year Army field artillery veteran who served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

That sense of gratitude was shared by others who took time from their preparations for spending the holiday with family and friends to attend the annual ceremony in downtown Arbutus.

"(It's) to honor our fallen men and women and the ones still abroad, to show respect for America, our country and our people," said Vicki Volkmar, who said her father and godfather were both veterans.

"It's so nice that we have the freedom to gather here and be part of something like this," she said.

The Arbutus resident found shelter from the sun under an umbrella as she listened to speeches by post second vice commander Pat Miller, post commander Chuck Catterton, ladies auxiliary president Jean McElroy and 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, who spoke for the area's representatives at the event, state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer and Dels. James Malone and Steven DeBoy.

The ceremony also featured an invocation by post chaplain Ed Godman and bagpipe music by Phil Penne that accompanied the short one-block parade up Oregon Avenue by the post's 27 Flags Unit.

Brocato, the leader of the Flags Unit,said he wasn't nervous as he joined the group in presenting the colors during the ceremony under Monday morning's bright sun.

The 22 members focused on staying in step and keeping control of their flag when a stray, welcome breeze blew through.

Steve Sullivan, commander of the Dewey Lowman Post's Sons of the American Legion, was among those who marched.

The Irvington native, who said his father served in the Europe during World War II, has been a member of the legion group for 20 years.

"My flag flies all the time," said the Hanover resident on his patriotic display outside his Hanover, Md., home.

As the huge flag at the Arbutus intersection fluttered at half-mast to mark the ultimate sacrifice by America's veterans, a member of the crowd looked at the list carved into a stone marker beneath the flag pole.

One name had special significance among the four columns of local veterans who had died serving their country.

"Vernon Albrecht," said Al Adams, a Navy veteran. "He was my neighbor."

He paused for a brief moment.

Then a voice called to him, and the talk turned to plans for the rest of Memorial Day.

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