‘Live lives worthy of those who’ve sacrificed’
HUGHESVILLE- Those who’ve sacrificed on behalf of our nation were underscored during Memorial Day services at Pleasant Hill Cemetery.
A table was set as Abe Pittenger described the meaning of each element honoring soldiers missing in action. The Commander of Sharrow Post #35 also presented an award to Cole Lesher, the outstanding 8th grade boy and son of Chris and Ann Lesher. A similar award went to Elise Sherman, daughter of Michael and Samantha Sherman, awarded by Doris Babb, Auxiliary President.
The 20-voice Hughesville Civil Choir sang two selections directed by Nancy Starr Hodge accompanied by Lena Carichner.
The invocation and benediction was offered by the Rev. Cinda Brucker, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hughesville.
The speaker was Sergeant Major Luke Converse of Huntersville, U.S. Marine Corps retired. The 1985 Hughesville High School graduate spent 25 years in the military including two deployments to Iraq.
“Each generation has its war, and right now we’re in Afghanistan,” Converse said. He emphasized the tolls suffered by families remembering when as a youngster in 1969, he’d questioned his mother as to when his father would come home. Eventually the dad returned from Vietnam and at age 69, lost his battle with cancer, a result of exposure to Agent Orange.
The former Marine told of a buddy with whom he served, killed after returning for a second tour in Iraq. Converse was chosen to escort the body home, the deceased held dual citizenships in Honduras and the U.S.
“I got to see the up close and personal side of loss when at the funeral I knelt to hand the flag to his young four-year-old son, thanking him on behalf of a grateful nation. These are the gold star heroes, the innocent victims whose lives will be empty of a father’s laugh and love,” Converse said.
During his 25 years in the military serving in all parts of the world, he’d seen places ravaged with squalor, disease, poverty, and political tyranny. “Marines are never sent to nice places,” he said. Witnessing these conditions led Converse to declare, “This is truly the greatest nation on earth and inspires us to do the best we can do to honor it, and live lives worthy of those who’ve sacrificed.”