Welcoming families for this annual ceremony, the directors and staff of Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services honored veterans who passed within the recent years. As families and friends gathered, they were greeted by the Young Marines of Hamilton, funeral directors and staff.
The ceremony began with an opening speech by Stacie L. Spahr, funeral director, who spoke of the importance of Memorial Day. She spoke of the men and women that joined the military without fear and became united in a fraternity filled with American Pride, Courage, Dedication, and Selflessness. These veterans were ordinary people who stood up for what they believed in and became extraordinary heroes. Stacie also spoke of the recent loss of veterans who worked or assisted at the funeral chapel and showed how even they, being funeral directors, are also affected by the loss of veterans.
The Young Marines lead in the Pledge of Alliance which was followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Jordan Tibo, a local music teacher. His rendition of this emotionally powerful hymn brought tears to the eyes of many as his voice overwhelmed those attending the service.
A member of the Young Marines of Hamilton spoke about their organization. This organization promotes mental, moral, and physical development. It also helps to develop leadership skills and aids in a healthy, drug-free lifestyle for young boys and girls in the local communities.
The keynote speaker, Maryland State Senator Katherine A. Klaismeier, spoke about Memorial Day Veterans and how important it is to remember that it is not just a holiday that we celebrate. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died to protect our freedom. Rev. Bob Tousey, a clergy member who lead the ceremony in prayer, said prayers for the families of the honored veterans and spoke of honoring all our service members, present, past, and future alike. He also said prayers for those leading this great nation in hopes that they always are always able to defend and protect our country.
To conclude the ceremony, Condraè McFadden, funeral director, Andrew Cimino, Army Veteran and Kenneth Spahr, Air Force Veteran presented each family with a coin, as a token of appreciation. The coin states “If you love your freedom, thank a United States Veteran.” The families were pleased to receive their token for their veteran from a veteran. Several handshakes and hugs were given to the two veterans that day, especially from the families of our Marine Veteran, Navy Veteran, and part-time funeral assistant who passed away this year.
As everyone exited the chapel they were handed a red, white, or blue balloon for the releasing ceremony lead by Mr. McFadden. Everyone gathered together in a circle holding onto their balloon tightly as everyone read the poem “Floating” in unison. Ryan Evans, son of Charles F. Evans, Jr., released a cluster of balloons to signify the loss of all veterans and was followed by the release of all other balloons. After the balloons became small dots in the sky, everyone was invited back inside for refreshments including hot dogs, chips, and soda as a way to end the day with a feeling of family togetherness.
The Annual Memorial Day Balloon Release has increased dramatically over the past few years. In 2010 it began with a small ceremony of about 12 people in attendance. This year, there were over 100 people in attendance. This ceremony is a way to gather together to remember and show gratitude to those who answered the call to serve and protect this country. Helping serve families is the primary goal and it is what makes our directors and staff committed to their work and the communities they serve. (Article written by Stacie L. Spahr) —