Memorial Day marked at Cedar Hill

Published 7:41 pm Monday, May 29, 2017

More than 1.3 million men and women have died in service to the United States since the Revolutionary War.

All of them were honored during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Cedar Hill Cemetery on Monday, conducted by the Norman R. Matthews Post 57 of the American Legion.

“Indeed, our freedom is never free,” said Joseph Garlitz, commander of the post.

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The ceremony featured a guest speaker, the placing of memorial wreaths at monuments honoring each war in the cemetery, and the playing of “Taps.”

Robert Grady and Johnny Beale of the Norman R. Matthews Post 57 of the American Legion lower the flag to half-staff at the conclusion of the ceremony at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

“The eloquence of words cannot match the sacrifices so many have made,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert S. Thompson. “It might be very easy to think of Memorial Day as simply a three-day weekend, but it is much more than that. These men and women served with distinction and with honor. Let us offer a thank-you for their sacrifice.”

Thompson noted that while the total of America’s war dead stretches back to the Revolutionary War, it continues to rise today with continued conflicts in the Middle East.

“We continue to fight a global war that has lasted many years and required much of our national treasure,” he said.

Thompson gave some suggestions on how to show gratitude for the sacrifices of the veterans who paid the ultimate price: Help their families. Visit wounded veterans in hospitals. Help veterans who are still with us. And most of all, listen to their stories.

“History deserves telling and re-telling,” he said. “Honor their sacrifices, tell their stories and cherish their memories.”

He also offered advice on the holiday: “Treat Memorial Day with reverence and respect, and others will follow your lead.”

Garlitz noted the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, which occurred last month. He told the story of his grandfather, Frank Garlitz, a native of a town called Elk Lick, Pa., who 99 years ago passed through Suffolk on his way to service to his country.

Garlitz also honored the memory of Matthews, after whom the post was renamed in 2010. Matthews was a native of Suffolk, a World War II Air Force veteran and a survivor of the Bataan Death March and 42 months of being held prisoner of war in Japan. His brother did not survive the Death March.

He retired as a senior master sergeant after 27 years of service, having earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions during World War II.

Boy Scout Troop 1 and Girl Scout troops 357 and 669 helped during the ceremony.