In describing the life of many military members, 1st Sgt. Starlene Hamilton started by reminding the crowd at Boonsboro’s Memorial Day ceremony that often those servicemen and servicewomen began their military careers as recent high school graduates.
They were probably student-athletes and had a high school sweetheart who either broke up with them when they left or swore would wait for them when they returned, said Hamilton, 49, of Williamsport.
While they love music, they also love “the sound and smell of a 16-inch round when it leaves the chamber, especially when it hits black on a target 500 yards away,” she said.
Hamilton was the main speaker at Boonsboro’s downtown wreath-laying ceremony Sunday afternoon, which preceded the Memorial Day parade.
At times Hamilton smiled during her speech.
“They might have trouble spelling, except for ‘love always,’ but they can field strip a rifle in less than 30 seconds and can reassemble it with their eyes closed. They couldn’t remember the answers to a test in high school, but they can recite all 11 general orders,” she said.
“They march until they are told to stop. They move toward the sound of gunfire,” she said.
Other times, Hamilton had to pause to compose herself.
“They have wept in public and private,” she said before one such pause. “For friends that have fallen in combat, they are unashamed.”
In addition to serving in the Marine Corps, Hamilton is a wife, mother of five and a teacher at Boonsboro High School. She teaches career research and development, and financial literacy to juniors and seniors.
The ceremony included a military honor guard that fired the traditional three volleys and the laying of four wreaths before a war memorial.
Boonsboro resident Mark McGlaughlin placed a wreath for the Sons of the American Legion, Korean War veteran and Funkstown resident Pat Patterson carried one for the Korean War Veterans Association, Boonsboro American Legion Commander Roslyn Wilson presented one for the legion and Makayla Wade, 7, of Boonsboro, placed a wreath for the Boonsboro American Legion’s auxiliary.
After about a 30-minute break following the ceremony, a parade of about 50 units came down Main Street from the school complex.
The parade included firetrucks, police vehicles, bands, majorettes, Boy Scouts, vintage cars and floats. Many parade participants threw candy, for which little children scrambled.
One of the vehicles featured Rohrersville resident Lauren Smith, of theU.S. Coast Guard, and Boonsboro resident Robert Glausier, 80, a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars.