Memorial Day in Shippensburg is typically a sea of red, white and blue as citizens gather along King Street to watch area Veterans, Scouts, organizations and first responders parade through town in honor of all heroes we have lost in battle and over the years, in remembrance of their bravery and sacrifice for our freedom.
Shippensburg not only holds a Memorial Day Parade each year, but its Joint Veterans Council always plans several ceremonies throughout the day to honor our heroes. The morning typically consists of the service at Locust Grove Cemetery on Queen Street in honor of all African American soldiers that served during the Civil War, followed by the annual Spring Hill Cemetery service where the names of every Veteran we have lost in the past year are read. A flag-raising ceremony is also held at Memorial Park prior to the parade, and the afternoon always concludes with the Navy and Marine Memorial Service at Branch Creek Bridge along King Street.
Shippensburg has a decorated history of military service, and its residents take pride in honoring those who have served.
This Monday marked Memorial Day 2020, and the town wasn’t quite the same. The coronavirus pandemic sadly forced the Veterans Council to cancel the parade and ceremonies due to social distancing restrictions, and the safety of all attendees.
While Shippensburg wasn’t filled with crowds Monday, residents still honored the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters.
A group of American flags was erected at the triangle at Fort and Earl streets, flags flew proudly along King Street and outside of many homes throughout town, and miniature American flags were placed on every Veterans’ gravesite.
The staff of Dance Academy XIV on King Street commissioned residents to send photos of their favorite area Veterans for their Wall of Hometown Heroes to be displayed proudly in the studio’s front window.
Families also honored their loved ones by visiting their gravesites Monday.
Nancy Morton visited Spring Hill Cemetery with her mother, and her children -- Grace, 11, Samuel, 9, and Josiah, 7 -- to visit Nancy’s great-uncle, Thomas Kenyon, and her grandfather, Jay H. Powell Jr., who both served during World War II.
“We come here every Memorial Day,” Nancy said. “We put flowers on the graves, and teach the kids to honor their memory.”
Commander Guy Hayslett and Chaplain James Clever of the Shippensburg American Legion also honored our Veterans Monday in a closed ceremony. They read the names of the Veterans we have lost in the past year, and rang the bell after each name was read.
Those we have lost include: Curvin J. Gochenour; Dave Sowers; Marian H. Sanford; Cletus W. Whitaker; Leonard F. Jengeleski; Harold J. McCullough; Thomas F. Eaton; Michael Albright; Freddie E.L. Maley; Donald L. Stine; Richard R. Greenawalt; Granville A. Waldt; John H. Guyer Jr.; Charles E. Beltz; John A. Bonitz; Leroy D. Sheriff Sr.; Thomas Ray Wiser; Dale E. Grissom; Russell V. Gearhart; Jerry L. Myers; Frank McClelland; Earl H. Varner; Harry T. Gruber; Terry Lee Killinger; John Andrew Sheaffer; Eldon E. Holtry Sr.; Alfred R. Frey Jr.; Frank L. Becraft; Richard Wayne Beecher; Thomas Van Dyke Jr.; Donald VanDerVeer; Nelson L. Hardy; Glenn E. Peterson Sr.; Edgar N. Diehl; Lester E. Suders; Gerald W. Dysinger; Arthur G. Besore; Leonard R. Baker; Preston W. Brown; Harold G. Nenninger; Ocie M. Balance Jr.; Leon R. Pisle; Frank Shuman Heberlig; Helen Rhea Long; Rev. Stanley J. Rexroth; Norman Swidler; William R. Smith; James M. Failor; and Dallas E. Garman.
Remember to honor our fallen Veterans every day, thanking them for their sacrifices and for our freedom.