The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 27, 2014

Never forget their service

Memorial Day speaker: Rejoice that they lived

FARRELL — Memorial Day is a somber occasion for those who honor America’s war dead. Those who have lost a loved one who was serving in the military feel sadness or grief at the reminder of so public and substantial a loss.

However, it should not be a time of universal mourning, said retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kevin Leeds.

“Do not mourn that such men and women died,” said Leeds, the speaker at the Farrell and Wheatland Memorial Day service. “Rather, rejoice that they lived.”

It is through the service that claimed their lives that American communities have the freedom to get together once a year to honor them, to remember what freedom costs and to bolster the resolve that liberty is something that needs to be tended daily, through the deeds of individuals acting for the common good.

“American serviceman have always fought for liberty and freedom against tyranny,” Leeds said.

Not all servicemen who serve give their lives, but many give a part of themselves that they cannot get back or that returns slowly and only through great effort.

Standing on Roemer Boulevard in Farrell as the Memorial Day parade passed by, Charlotte Dunlap said her grandson, Jeremy Dunlap, was injured during his service overseas and has had a “hard time” since his medical discharge about two years ago.

“I look at all the servicemen,” she said of her thoughts as the parade went by. “They come home with that (post-traumatic stress disorder). Some are worse than others.”

Dunlap brought her 18-month-old granddaughter, Denise, to the parade, and comes every year to honor those like her grandson and her brothers, Navy vet Ralph Baker and Army vet Ed Baker.

“They deserve it,” she said of the day set aside to honor the ultimate sacrifice of service personnel, and those who served but did not give their lives.

Elisa Hargrette, a Sharon resident and Farrell native, said she comes to Farrell’s observance every year “just to support the vets.”

Those vets include her grandfather, Navy man Dennis Hargrette, who died on Memorial Day; her father, Marine Dennis Hargrette Jr.; and her uncle, Army soldier Robert Hughes, who is buried in Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery.

“It’s about what they went through for us for our country,” she said.

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