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Thurmont remembers its veterans, unveils new monument

(6/7) A year after Lt. Robert Seidel, III was buried, his parents were part of the special Memorial Day Services in Thurmont’s Memorial Park to honor area veterans and unveil a new memorial in the park.

The memorial service was held on May 30. The flags at Memorial Park flew at half mast and the Thurmont Middle School Band played patriotic tunes. The weather was pleasant for the event as hundreds of people sat in the shade of the huge trees that had been planted to remember fallen veterans from past wars as the newest veterans were remembered.

“This day is sacred with the almost visible presence of those who have gone before us,” Thurmont American Legion Commanders Dennis Delp said at the beginning of the service.

While most people felt that “visible presence” through the granite monuments that ringed the park pavilion, few noticed the three new trees that had been planted in the park. They stood in a straight line behind American flags planted in front of them. Catoctin Colorfest recently purchased the trees and had them planted in the park as a living memorial for the area’s three fallen soldiers from the Iraq War – Seidel, James Higgins and Erik Hayes.

Bob and Sandy Seidel sat in the shade of one of the trees with other friends and families.

“It’s wonderful, nice to see so many people here for this,” Sandy said. “It’s been a rough year.”

Prior to this year, the four granite monuments in the pavilion had been etched with the names of Thurmont veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Familiar Thurmont family names like Bentz, Ramsburg, Stottlemyer and Eyler can be found on them.

For this Memorial Day, the Thurmont American Legion and AMVETS purchased a fifth monument for those veterans who had served since the U.S. left Vietnam. John Kinnaird with Kinnaird Memorials donated the engraving. Luckily, he was also able to clean up to monuments earlier in the day because they had already been defaced by graffiti and skid marks from skateboard being slid across the tops of the monuments.

Following the wreath laying at the monuments by veterans of different eras, the families of Seidel, Hayes and Higgins were escorted to the monument for the unveiling. Here, they found the names of their loved ones where future generations will be able to come and remember their sacrifice.

David Schaaf, commander of American Legion Department of Maryland, told the families during his address, “I understand your hurt. I truly can.” He remembers all too well how it felt to lose his brother in the 1969 during the Vietnam Conflict.

Prior to the service, 12 flags had been placed in at the memorial for the unknown dead in Wellers United Methodist Cemetery and 998 flags on veterans graves at Wellers United Methodist Cemetery, Blue Ridge Cemetery, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery, Apples Church Cemetery, Mount Moriah Cemetery, Chestnut Bethel Cemetery, Brown Cemetery, Bethel Church Cemetery, Lewistown Cemetery, Creagerstown Cemetery, Graceham Moravian Cemetery and two cemeteries in Rocky Ridge.

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