Prayer service honors eastern Baltimore County veterans
“A veteran, whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve, is someone who at one point in his life wrote a blank check payable to the United State of America for an amount of his life,” said Keith Roberts, the vice
president of the Lamky, Luther, Whitehead Veterans Committee during a Veterans Day prayer ceremony held last Sunday.
Local veterans gathered on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at the base of the monument located at the Holly Hills Memorial Gardens in Middle River to reflect on their years of service and to honor those who came before them.
Roberts explained that the Lamky, Luther, Whitehead Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1989 as a way to honor eastern Baltimore County residents who honorably served or were killed in action in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. Later that year, although there weren’t any official services planned, the mounment’s founder Al Clasing and his wife stopped by to say a few prayers.
“Little did they know, when they got here, several veterans had the same idea. So on that day, the Annual Veterans Day prayer service was born.”
Since then, the prayer service has kept the tradition alive, being held every year for residents to show their appreciation and for veterans to share their experiences.
In celebrating 100 years since Armistice Day, or the conclusion of World War I, the ceremony reflected on some of the names etched into the monument’s first stone.
Roberts said that the first name was Fred R.P. Hughes, who born on the Back River Neck peninsula at the turn of the century. In December of 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and signed to serve aboard a cargo ship out of Virginia. In April of 1918, the ship was hit by a German tornado and sank in the North Sea near Glasgow. All 48 members on board, including Hughes, perished and remains were never recovered.
The other veteran memorialized was Private Frank F. Fleshman, another Back River resident who was killed in action on October 1918, just 22 days before the end of the war. Roberts said he is in the process of having Fleshman’s name named added alongside Hughes’.
“They were willing to give their lives so that you could be here today and we offer them our thanks,” said Roberts.
Towards the end of the service, he mentioned that every soldier has to take an oath of enlistment before they joined the Armed Forces, where they declared their unwavering support in defending the county. The veterans in attendance stood up and proudly recited these oaths again, reaffirming this life-long commitment.
“Although many of us have aged a few years, since that time, I think if we were still called to duty, we would be the first in line to fight for our country,” said Roberts. “We’re ready to fight again.
The audience then joined hands and sang along to ‘God Bless America’.
Later that day, over 700 luminaries were set up and lit at sundown. 153 of the luminaries were red, representing local veterans who were killed in action.