Strasburg service honors those who fought to protect our freedoms

By Sam Taff — Daily Correspondent

Clouds covered the sky this Memorial Day, but it did little to obscure the memory of fallen heroes.

Nearly 150 people from around Strasburg attended a ceremony by the Strasburg American Legion Post 77 on Monday morning. Some stood while others brought chairs to bask in the comfort and solitude of their surroundings.

Flags lined the drive to Riverview Cemetery in honor of the event.

“It is important to the memory of our veterans who gave the ultimate price, whether they died in combat or not. It’s also important to remember the ones who are still serving,” explained post Commander Frank Hillyard.

Those attending the ceremony included Legion members, local families who were honoring a family member and community leaders who were there to support the efforts of the Legion.

Scattered throughout the crowd were members of local Boy Scout troops. Scouts helped the Legion place flags along the driveway leading into the ceremony.

“It is very important to see them up here,” Hillyard said of the young people in attendance. “They want to learn. We have a very patriotic community and it’s our job as leaders to express the importance of that.”

With young leaders standing in the front row, Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor spoke of the importance of the day.

“These courageous men and women, each so different in heritage and background, shared the common bonds of the armed forces — duty and sacrifice,” Taylor said.

Taylor spoke of the bonds in the Strasburg community that center around service to the town, state and country. To emphasize his point, the speech was centered around the words engraved on the plaque at the cemetery, “Lest We Forget.”

That plaque and the lit American flag have stood as a monument for Strasburg residents for many years.

“I have the privilege of seeing this every day. It serves its purpose for me because I think of the three words inscribed on the monument, ‘Lest We Forget’.”

Taylor encouraged everyone in attendance to share stories about people they know and remember.

“Tell our young people about those that fought to preserve our freedoms and those that lost their lives doing it,” Taylor said.

He went on to share the story of Miller Frederick Kline Jr., a Strasburg native who served and gave the ultimate price for freedom in World War II.

Kline served in the Army as a first lieutenant in the 175th Infantry, 29th Division. He was highly decorated, even earning the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“Lt. Kline, known as “Fred” here in our community, was killed in action fighting to preserve our freedoms,” Taylor said.

After his death, the town placed Kline’s name on the community baseball field. The field, located behind what is now the Strasburg Mennonite Church, is no longer used, but many in the community remember it and remember its namesake.

Hillyard said the American Legion works throughout the year to help veterans still suffering and to educate young children.

He noted the Legion sponsors essay contests at local schools to help young people remember those who fight for their freedoms. The organization also supports the Veterans Administration Hospital in Martinsburg by giving veterans rides, and sponsors a Christmas party at the hospital for patients each year.