True meaning of Memorial Day on display at Midstate cemetery

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – “It’s breathtaking. I’m humbled,” said Dave Barninger, commander of VFW Post 7530 in Lower Allen Township, as he looked out at row upon row of American flags.

Rolling Green Cemetery has transformed into rolling red, white and blue. Beneath every one of those flags lies a veteran.

“This small cemetery in Camp Hill has 5,000 veterans,” Barninger said with awe. “Multiply that across the United States and think about how many guys put on the uniform and left their family and the good life.”

Many of them didn’t come home. They’ve fallen in combat and peace. They’ve fallen through the years and through the wars. They are what this weekend is all about.

“One point two million Americans sacrificed everything they had for us,” said Lt. Colonel Stuart E. Werner, the keynote speaker at Friday’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Rolling Green, “so I think it’s very important that we honor them.”

Werner is a Manchester, York County native currently attending the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. Memorial Day, to him, is about a close friend, Lieutenant Richard Torres.

“The Passaic, New Jersey native was killed by a roadside bomb at the young age of 25,” Werner recalled during the ceremony.

Werner said he’d like to tell the audience that the U.S. will no longer be sending American troops into harm’s way.

“But tyranny doesn’t take a holiday and being the leader of the free world will not allow us to take a knee.”

So there’s seemingly no end in sight to the sacrifice and the suffering, and no end in sight to young men and women willing to answer the call.

“It’s unbelievable this many people have served,” Fred Roller, commander of VFW Post 7415 in New Cumberland, said as he looked over all those flags identifying all those veterans. “And this is just one cemetery in the state of Pennsylvania. It seems like whenever America needs them, they come from somewhere.”

But for Werner, this place is no longer just some place where he spoke.

An hour before taking to the microphone, he buried his mother’s remains next to his Vietnam veteran father at Rolling Green.

His parents have now joined the ranks.

“I think there’s a lot of cemeteries all over the country just like this because a lot of great Americans have served. I think this is awesome. I think it’s one of the prettiest cemeteries I’ve seen,” Werner said.

Rolling Green will be open all weekend. Visitors are welcome.

Friday’s noontime service included a 15-gun salute and Taps by the Lower Allen VFW Post Honor Guard, several patriotic songs from The Keystone Capital Chorus, and a reading of the poem “In Flanders Field” by New Cumberland Mayor DJ Landis.

A wreath was placed by Barninger and Roller. The Invocation and Benediction were delivered by Betty Ann Harris, auxiliary chaplain of the Lower Allen VFW Post. The Cedar Cliff High School Color Guard posted the colors.

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