Gettysburg Memorial Day parade inspires honor and remembrance

When my editor assigned me to write a story on Monday’s Memorial Day Parade in Gettysburg, I eagerly jumped at the chance to create a piece that honored our nation’s fallen and recognized those who work so hard to keep their memory alive.

Over the course of a few hours in Gettysburg I met a few of the hundreds of people who had come to show their respects on Memorial Day.

As I approached the start of the parade on Lefever St. on Monday morning I ran into a couple, Ray and Stef, who were listening to a Civil War reenactor explain the difference in the two types of muskets he was carrying. For Ray, this brought back memories of an old neighbor of his, the stories he told of his fishing trips, and the old civil war muskets he found washed up after heavy rains had fallen. 

“There are still treasures buried all over this town”, Ray thought aloud.

Walking a little further, I had the honor of meeting African American businesswoman Lydia Hamilton Smith, (portrayed by Sheila Supenski) and Thaddeus Stevens, (portrayed by Ross Hetrick, President of the Thaddeus Stevens Society). The two were representing the Thaddeus Stevens Society for the first time in a Memorial Day Parade.

“It is a great honor to serve in the Memorial Day Parade, honoring Union soldiers who defeated the Confederates and ended slavery,” said Hetrick.

Dressed in Army Fatigues, Sharon Tice said she had been inspired to volunteer in the parade after moving to Adams County. “It is really, really important to remember those who gave their lives for our benefit, and we must never forget that,” she said.

As the parade began, I found the Gold Star Mothers, Sandy Seidel and Cher Kondor, beautifully dressed in white. Cher Kondor, Mother of Army Spc. Martin W. Kondor, gave the greatest sacrifice a mother can give to her country when her beloved son was killed in action on April 29, 2004 in Iraq.  “Freedom’s not free and it’s important on Memorial Day that we remember and honor those who have sacrificed to defend our way of life,” she said.

Before we parted ways, Cher told me to go online and look up the Gold Star Garden, so I did and was moved to tears.

Officially known as the Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden, the site is a living tribute to all veterans; a memorial arboretum particularly dedicated to our intrepid sons and daughters now fighting in the war on terror. The garden, located at 1000 Vander Avenue, in York, is free, and open to the public from dusk until dawn.

Sandy Seidel, Mother of Army 1st Lt. Robert A. Seidel III, who sacrificed when her son was killed in action on May 18, 2006, chose to quote G.K. Chesterton, saying, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

As the parade ended and I walked home, I met one last person. This woman, who wished to remain unnamed, has dedicated her life to remembering the seemingly long-forgotten U.S. Colored Troops of the Civil War, keeping their memory alive and restoring the sacred hallowed grounds of their final resting place.

I would like to leave you with some final thoughts written by Gold Star Mother Cherriney B.W. Kondor, dedicated to all veterans, and inspired by Army Spc. Martin W. Kondor:

 “Wrapped in the stripes of the flag

Rolling onward

Into infinity – the great beyond

The silver cord chasing

Becoming earth bound in red and white

The honor and blood

Flowing ever thus from one increment of


To the next nonexistent increment.”

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Holly Weaver, Reporter, was raised by two United States Marine Corps sergeants in West Chester Pennsylvania. She is a wife and a mother to four children. She tries to live by and teach my children that while every day may not be good, there is something good to be found in every day.

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