Aberdeen Proving Ground Soldiers joined local communities to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the nation during Memorial Day ceremonies around Harford and Cecil counties Monday, May 29.
The Memorial Day Tribute at the Edgewood Arsenal Cemetery at APG South (Edgewood) featured Guest Speaker Col. Marty Muchow, deputy commander of the 20th CBRNE Command.
Muchow welcomed guests to “this quiet and reverent place” and called Memorial Day a day of remembrance and honor: a day when Soldiers and families pause to remember and mourn.
“This holiday is an opportunity to tell the stories of the past to those who will pass the stories on to the children of tomorrow,” he said.
The flags on each grave within the gated cemetery, he said, served as simple reminders that the services rendered, whether in the United States or overseas in conflict, answered the call.
He asked listeners to reflect, to honor and to remember that freedom is not free, adding that, “The service members buried here and across the globe made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of the United States.”
“For 241 years,” he said, “our mothers and fathers and sons and daughters have volunteered to protect our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And while the world and America has changed, the values that drive the men and women in the armed forces remain constant. Today, many Americans don’t fully understand the sacrifices made by the one percent who serve in this all-volunteer force. Our Gold Star families, our military families, our veterans, they all understand.
“Never forget the men and women like you who know all too well the cost of freedom.”
The chamber brass ensemble of the U.S. Army Field Band provided music, including the playing of “Taps” at the ceremony’s end. A memorial wreath lying was performed by Ronald and Teodora Zwicke of Corpus Christi Council 6188 and local scouts Aidan Goldman, 8, of Cub Scout Pack 313 in Bel Air; Liliana Palmer of Girl Scout Troop 619 in Sykesville, Maryland and her brother David Palmer of Boy Scout Troop 9 in Upperco, Maryland.
Chaplain Lt. Col. Herndon Barton gave the invocation and benediction and the 20th CBRNE Command fire squad fired a gun salute.
Visitors said they were touched by the ceremony.
As Michelle Idler waited with her four children, Lily, 7; Tess, 6; Nora, 3; and Ben, 2; for their father, Staff Sgt. Timothy Idler to return from the fire squad she reflected on Muchow’s words which she said were in synch with their morning discussion.
“On the way here we talked about what Memorial Day is for and we used words that were easy for them to understand,” she said. She added that the military lifestyle makes her grateful as a military spouse and mother for every day of togetherness.
“We know people who have suffered loss, so I know what it’s like,” she said, “and that makes me appreciate who he is and what he does for our family and for our country, even more.”
Gabriella Palmer, the spouse of Lt. Col. Benjamin Palmer, 20th CBRNE command surgeon, said everyone who serves their nation should be honored and remembered and everyone who benefits from their sacrifice should make time to remember.
“I just think it’s very important. It’s something we all should take the time to do. I really liked the message in the ceremony and the speech.”
Remembering those who served
The City of Aberdeen program was held at Veterans Memorial Park and hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 10028 and Bernard L. Tobin American Legion Post 128. The guest speaker, Maj. Gen. John W. Charlton, commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, also shared a message focused on the importance of remembrance. Guests included local and state politicians and civic leaders such as Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, Maryland State Delegate Glen Glass, State Senator Bob Cassilly, and Aberdeen Chief of Police Henry Trabert.
The program included the placing of wreaths of the past, present and future, as well as a wreath for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The Aberdeen Middle School band provided music and Post 128 provided the honor guard salute team and the bugler who also played “Taps.”
World War II veteran Alexander D. Watson, at age 94, said he was in the Navy and served in the Pacific on a battleship for three years. He enlisted in 1942 and worked in the fire control division.
“We manned the big guns,” he said. “Too many years ago to remember it all.”
He did recall sailing around the Marshall Islands, Saipan and other islands in the region as well as a few skirmishes with enemy vessels. He said he lost more than a few friends and was more than a little grateful to survive the war and return home to friends and family.
When asked about the importance of Memorial Day ceremonies, he said, “It’s to remind all of us how blessed we are.”
Kyle Lacey of APG’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said he attends ceremonies every year to honor his father and grandfather. Memorial Day is a time to let the armed forces know they are not forgotten, he said.
He added that he spent the previous Saturday placing flags at graves around Harford County.
“I never served but me being a part of the military community, and working around military children and families, gives it even greater importance,” he said.
Robert Brown, VFW Post 10028 commander, where guests enjoyed a complimentary lunch after the ceremony, said the event draws more people every year. He thanked Andy Powell, commander of Post 128, the Aberdeen Middle School band and a host of volunteers who come together to present the program for the community each year.
“This is becoming more and more important to people. It’s great to see this many people turn out,” he said. “More and more are realizing the importance of remembrance and they see it only takes an hour out of their day.
“It’s not so much about what they take away from things like this,” he added, “it’s more about what brought them here in the first place.”