Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. On this day thousands of volunteers across the nation place an American flag on the graves of those who have fought in our wars. Ceremonies are held to honor those who proved “ freedom is not free.”
American Legion Stallings-Williams Post 206 annually holds a Memorial Day Ceremony to honor those that “gave all” at the Veterans Memorial Park, looking out over the Chesapeake Bay. This year inclement weather made it difficult and the ceremony was held at the Post home in Chesapeake Beach.
Entering the building you were greeted by Boy Troop Scout Troop 429. The Scouts passed out programs and showed guests to seats. The troop is led by Brad Horning, Scout Master. Tim White is the Veteran Liaison between the American Legion and Troop.
Beth and Bill Johnson played patriotic music on a fife and drum. The fife and drum have long been associated with the military to regulate the daily activities of the troops. They would signal when troops should rise in the morning, retire at night, and when to eat and assemble. The fife and drum were also used to sound an alarm.
Standing for the “Posting of the Colors,” Ricardo Gabriel performed an amazing rendition of the National Anthem on trumpet. Mr. Gabriel has been playing the trumpet for more than 70 years ago.
Cindy Lohman, a Gold Star Mother, provided the invocation. Ms. Lohman’s son, Army Sgt. Ryan P. Baumann, died in August 1, 2008, of injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan. Ms. Lohman was followed by Shirl Hendley, Auxiliary Unit 206 President, who led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Les Griffith, Commander of American Legion Stallings-Williams Post 206, welcomed the large group. He had a proclamation from Governor Hogan that was read. He then recognized dignitaries including Delegate Mark Fisher, Commissioners, Evan Slaughenhoupt, Pat Nutter, Tom Hejl, Mayor Pat “Irish” Mahoney and Mayor Mark Frazier, Sheriff Mike Evans and Rachel Jones representing Senator Ben Cardin.
Commander Griffith thanked the Town of Chesapeake Beach and the committee for producing the Star-Spangled Weekend, held annually in Chesapeake Beach. The annual event’s theme this year was “Patriotism and Me” and featured patriotic music, family events and a parade.
Commander Les Griffith gave a “snapshot” of what occurred during World War II in Calvert County with a description of the Aircraft Warning Service (AWS). A civilian service of the U.S. Army Ground Observer Corps, AWS was used during World War II to watch for enemy planes entering American airspace. It was believed that aircraft attacking Washington, D.C., would fly over Calvert County. This group of people watching the skies could conceivably save Washington from an attack. Many Calvert County citizens volunteered for AWS. It was active until May 29, 1944.
Articles that appeared in local and national news publications, including the Calvert Independent, during World War II were read by Rob Sybert. The articles spoke of the heroic efforts of the soldiers overseas and their families at home.
Fred Bumgarner read the list of the soldiers from Calvert County that lost their lives during World War II. They were: Tech Sgt. Ralph F. Atkins, Pvt. Philip D. Bowles, Sgt. Mark E. Buckler, Pvt. Joseph H. Coates, Cpl. Paul H. Cordell, Pvt. Benson Curtis, Staff Sgt. C. O. Deakyne, Jr., PFC Carlisle W. Denton, PFC Henry F. Dodd, Pvt. Isham Ford, PFC Norman A. Gray Jr., PFC James R. Heich, PFC Felbert M. Jones, PFC John R. Kent, Pvt. Ernest V. Kessler, Pvt. William B. King Jr., PFC James E. Monroe, Sgt. John L. Slivenick, Pvt. James F. Stallings, 2nd Lt. Frederick C. Webster, and Tech 4 Jesse W. Williams.
American Legion Stallings-Williams Post 206 carries the name of Pvt. James F. Stallings and Tech 4 Jesse W. Williams, both killed in action during World War II.
The American Legion Stallings-Williams Post 206 recognizes those lost through military, fire department and law enforcement. A very emotional placement of wreathes was led by the North Beach Fire Department, who recently lost Rescue Captain Patricia Osburn in the line of duty. Led by Fire Chief Joseph Keller and several members of Osburn’s family they recognized her dedication and achievements.
The Law Officers wreath was placed by Sheriff Mike Evans, Calvert County Sheriff’s Department, and Commissioners Pat Nutter and Tom Hejl, both retired police officers. The final wreath for the United States Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and the Army National Guard was place by members of the American Legion Stallings-Williams Post 206.
Mr. Gabriel played “Taps” at the end of the ceremony, which was followed by a moment of silent prayer.
Commander Les Griffith gave closing remarks, where he remembered a recent Memorial Day show that played on Maryland Public Television (MPT). It featured Colin Powell, retired four-star general in the United States Army. Powell had said “Love, help and support those that remain.” Commander Griffith said we need to remember those words this Memorial Day.
The event closed with a benediction by Scott Deacon, the Chaplin for the Post.
Post members then attended the Memorial Day ceremony held at the Calvert County Courthouse at 1 p.m. An open house for the community was held at the Post later that afternoon.
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter