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(Enlarge) Military color guard participants stand together Sunday during the installation's first joint commemoration of the Massing of the Colors and Memorial Day observance at the Pavilion. Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, commander of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, was the keynote speaker for the dual observance. (Photo by Heather Santos)

The American flag and its call to voluntary service was the message of Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst's speech at the installation's first joint commemoration of the Annual Massing of the Colors and Memorial Day.

"Our flag should remind us that we are each called to serve our country in some way or another," said Horst, commander of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

The combined observances were sponsored Sunday at the Pavilion by the installation with the support of the General George G. Meade chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars.

Distinguished guests, service members, veterans and their family members attended the 90-minute commemoration, which was described as inspirational.

"I felt it was very moving, very profound," said Kathy Tempel, who attended with her husband, Col. Thomas Tempel, outgoing commander of Fort Meade Dental Activity, and their 14-year-old daughter, Allison.

Lt. Col. Thomas A. Boone, commander of Headquarters Command Battalion, welcomed guests on behalf of Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas, who missed the event so he could attend his daughter's high school graduation.

In his introduction of Horst, Boone called the general a "stalwart supporter" and "advocate" of Fort Meade.

Horst, who also served as the event's grand marshal, acknowledged the more than 40 color guards in attendance.

"This is a magnificent display of colors before us," he said.

The display of flags, Horst said, is an inspiration to volunteer in service to the country and that volunteerism has made the nation great. Today, all members of the armed forces are volunteers -- no one in recent years has been drafted, he said.

Members of the armed services work to defend "something bigger than themselves" and that cause is freedom, Horst said.

"The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transfer that freedom to their children," he said.

The nation's spirit of patriotism is part of its heritage and inspires the nation to stand at the "forefront of protecting freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan," Horst said.

The event began with a musical prelude and trumpet fanfare by the Maryland Defense Force Band. The Defense Information School Armed Forces Color Guard posted the colors.

Sgt. Maj. Joel Dulyea of the U.S. Army Field Band sang the National Anthem. Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kevin Stroop gave the invocation, blessed the colors and gave the benediction.

Retired Col. Bert Rice, co-chairman of the Massing of the Colors for the General George G. Meade chapter of the MOWW, served as master of ceremonies.

"Your presence here is much appreciated," Rice said. "Thank you for joining us on this special, meaningful occasion."

Edward Chow, Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs, read a proclamation from Gov. Martin O'Malley declaring May 23 as Massing of the Colors Day.

The official party included Maj. Jon Graebener, aide to Horst, and MOWW members Lt. Col. Sheldon Goldberg and Lt. Col. Ruth Hamilton.

Other distinguished guests included retired Brig. Gen. Tom Johnson, former executive director of the Selective Service for Maryland; Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Williams of the Military District of Washington; Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Watkins; and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Smith of Headquarters Command Battalion.

After the program, several audience members discussed the solemn presentation.

"I think [Horst] did an excellent job," said Betty Wade, a former member of the Retired Officers' Wives' Club.

Retired Master Sgt. Vincent Thomas, of the 555th Parachute Infantry Association in Baltimore, said the Massing of the Colors is a reminder for the nation to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices made in its defense.

"I think this is a time when we should all stand still for a moment and think of all the people [who serve]," Thomas said. "Not just today. We have people in harm's way every day."

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