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