Prayer ser­vice hon­ors eastern Bal­ti­more County vet­er­ans

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­[email protected]­pub.com

“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.

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