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05-26-09, 08:49 AM #1
Paying tribute to those who made ultimate sacrifice is personal for grand marshal of
Paying tribute to those who made ultimate sacrifice is personal for grand marshal of Exeter's Memorial Day parade
Paying tribute to those who gave ultimate sacrifice is personal for grand marshal of Exeter Township's parade
By Mary E. Young
- Honoring the men and women who died serving in wars was personal for the grand marshal of Exeter Township's annual Memorial Day parade.
As the former administrative officer for Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment, 1st Sgt. Scott D. Hamm's duties included retrieving the bodies of Marines killed in action in Iraq.
Four from his company of about 180 members were among them, the Exeter native said Monday.
"They do it for their country, and they do it for each other," Hamm said. "There is not one day out of the year that we don't think about them, but this is a day when everyone thinks about them. This is a day to share some of the sacrifices we've seen."
Hamm's appearance in the American Legion Post No. 934 parade in Exeter was just one of the many highlights of Memorial Day celebrations held Monday across Berks County.
Bright sunshine and pleasant temperatures made for a perfect day to pay tribute to America's war dead.
During a brief speech in Forest Hills Memorial Park following the parade, Hamm, 35, recalled Sgt. Joshua Frazier of Stafford, Va.
Frazier was just 24 when he was killed in February 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq, during his second deployment, said Hamm, an Exeter native.
The respect fellow Marines had for Frazier led to his promotion to sergeant shortly before his death, Hamm said.
"I can still see the pride in his eyes, how his chest was heaving as we pinned those chevrons on his shoulder," Hamm said. "Four days later we lost him."
Lost lives are the cost of a free and undivided country, said Hamm, now with the School of Infantry, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
He encouraged the hundreds of people gathered in the cemetery to talk to their family members and friends about the meaning of Memorial Day.
In the keynote address, Ret. Lt. Col. Robert Miller of Exeter Township said Forest Hills once had so many visitors it was a regular bus stop, and flowers were raised along the edges so visitors could pick them and place them on graves.
The Berks County Veterans Memorial, where the ceremony was held, was installed after World War II, and a list of men and women killed in the war was sealed inside, he said.
The cemetery then became the popular veterans burial spot it is today, Miller said, his words punctuated by small, graveside flags waving in a slight breeze.
Elsewhere in Berks, parades wove through the streets of Mohnton, Shillington, Kutztown, Boyertown and Bernville.
The Patriotic Sons of America Camp No. 446 held a memorial ceremony in Centerport, while Belleman's Church sponsored a picnic and a performance by the Washington Band of Annville, Lebanon County.
The Combined Veterans Council of Berks County started its celebration with a ceremony in Veterans Grove in City Park. A parade to the Civil War monument in Charles Evans Cemetery followed.
The event concluded with a free performance by the reigning world champion drum and bugle corps, the Reading Buccaneers, in the 700 block of Centre Avenue.
Contact Mary Young: 610-478-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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