Nicholas C. Stern
(10/25) Dozens of local residents gathered Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Center to honor local members of the U.S. armed services.
The Thurmont Lions Club organized the event as the focus of its fourth annual Make a Difference Day of volunteering.
Lions Club members recognized deployed military personnel, wounded veterans being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, veterans of past wars, fallen soldiers and their family members during the reception.
Shirley Long, a member of the Thurmont Lions Club, said about 19 active-duty military personnel from Thurmont are deployed overseas.
Area schoolchildren wrote letters, and local businesses donated some of their wares to be included in care packages handed out to the families of those service members, she said.
Each personalized care package included snacks, movies and gift certificates.
Family members of military personnel on were also given Blue Star Banners, a tribute to those who serve.
Volunteers unveiled hand-painted portraits of two troops who died during duty, and announced the establishment of a fund in memory of another.
Dan Pulsipher, a wounded veteran from Irvine, Calif., who served in Iraq, was one of the two men who came from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to attend the event.
Pulsipher believed the gathering represented a broader acceptance of the nation's war veterans than during the Vietnam War, when some who returned home were not respected in their communities.
"I think it's great to support the troops," he said.