Memorial Day: Local Families Honor Fallen Heroes Through Giving

One week from today is Memorial Day, a national holiday to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Sadly, Frederick County has felt the loss of too many service members who did not return from the front lines. Some of those families have turned to the Community Foundation to help them honor their fallen family member.

Marine Corps Sgt. Charles I. Cartwright
A 2001 graduate of Walkersville High School, Marine Corps Sgt. Charles I. Cartwright finished his Marine Corps training in January 2002. Over the course of five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he received numerous decorations including two Purple Hearts, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbons, and a Navy Presidential Unit Citation, among others. He died in Afghanistan in November 2009. His parents, Howard and Carol Ann Cartwright, created a fund with the Community Foundation in his honor to provide scholarships to Walkersville High School graduates. The fund has provided scholarships to five students.

Army 1st Lt. Robert Seidel III
Army 1st Lt. Robert Seidel III, a 2000 Catoctin High graduate, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served as a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq. He was killed in Iraq in May 2006. To honor his memory and his commitment to his troops, his parents established The 1LT Robert A. Seidel III Memorial Scholarship Fund to award scholarships to graduating seniors from Catoctin High School. A second fund, The 1LT Rob Seidel Wounded Soldiers Fund, provides grants to nonprofits that support wounded soldiers with medical treatment, housing assistance, psychological counseling, physical and occupational therapies, companionship, mentoring and employment training. The two funds combined have distributed more than $170,000 in grants and scholarships.

Army Capt. Ryan Dennison
After attending Urbana High School, Ryan Dennison followed his family’s military tradition of attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 2004. Army Capt. Ryan Dennison exemplified the West Point motto of Duty, Honor, and Country throughout his life. He died in Iraq in November 2006. To honor Ryan’s memory, his family established two funds. The Captain John Ryan Dennison Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to graduating scholar/athletes from Urbana and Linganore High Schools; and The John Ryan Dennison Memorial Fund supported the construction of a memorial. The two funds combined have distributed more than $55,000.

Marine Corps Sgt. David J. Smith
A graduate of Frederick High School, Marine Corps Sgt. David J. Smith joined the United States Marine Corps in 2003 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He died in January 2010 of injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan. His family established two funds – a veterans relief fund and a scholarship fund to support students who demonstrate leadership qualities, actively serve in their community, participate in a faith-based organization, and have a strong sense of patriotism. The two funds combined have distributed almost $275,000 in scholarships and grants.

Many more families and organizations have partnered with the Community Foundation to honor service members over the years. We are so fortunate to play a role in building the legacy of these local heroes. Thank you to the very generous donors who make an impact every day in honor of their fallen family member.

*Published in The Frederick News-Post on May 23, 2022.