On Monday, May 25, American Legion Post 3, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6483, the Milford Senior Center and the Milford Community Band held a Memorial Day Service at the Milford Senior Center to honor those who had fallen in the line of duty while serving the country. The ceremony was led by Retired Lieutenant Malcolm Foster who is a veteran of World War II.
The ceremony began with the voice of General John A. Logan, Commander, Grand Army of the Republic, stating the reason the country established a holiday to recognize fallen soldiers. Originally known as Decoration Day, Major Logan established May 30, 1868 as the first holiday dedicated to honoring America’s fallen heroes. It is believed that the date was chosen as flowers throughout the country would be in bloom by that date. The first Memorial Day celebration was held at Arlington National Cemetery as members made their way through the graves, placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate Soldiers, three years after the Civil War ended. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday that would take place on the last Monday in May.
“We see on television and in movies examples of what soldiers have done, but we don’t always see the stories of hundreds of thousands of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mayor Bryan Shupe. “My grandfather served in the war during the Korean War, although he remained stateside. He remained stateside due to the Sole Survivor Act because his two brothers had served during World War II and both were killed in action, shot down over Germany and Hungary.” Mayor Shupe urged all in attendance to take Memorial Day and every day to thank those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Charles Garrod, Past Commander of the Korean War Veterans, presented a medal to Jim Baker who had served in the Korean War as a Petty Officer First Class. The medal is given to those who served between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953. The recipient must have been on permanent assignment or temporary duty for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days and must have performed their duty within Korea, participating in actual combat operations or in support of combat operations.
The guest speaker for the event was Mike Mignogno who served in Africa and Italy during World War II. Mr. Mignogno was drafted into the United States Army in 1943 and went through boot camp at Camp Croft, South Carolina, before being transported to Casablanca.
“After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the president called for a million-man army, and we did that,” Mr. Mignogno said. “We went, by ship, to Casablanca in North Africa and took it then marched through deserts to take Iran and Algiers.” Mr. Mignogno acted as a runner, delivering messages from headquarters to the front line. He was taken prisoner by Germany who put him to work building bridges and highways that were destroyed by the Allied Forces.
One day, while working, an Allied plane flew overhead and his German captors ran to hide under a bridge. Mr. Mignogno took advantage and ran toward the Alps where he climbed until he found a cave, where he hid for three days. He saw a house and was given assistance by the family, eventually returning to his unit where they marched to Switzerland. Mr. Mignogno said that by the time they reached Switzerland, it was 1945 and the war was over.
“A lot of my comrades didn’t make it home,” Mr. Mignogno said. “I thank God every day that I made it back to the best country in the world – the United States of America.” After his speech, Representative Harvey Kenton and Mayor Shupe presented Mr. Mignogno with a proclamation recognizing his service to the country from the Delaware House of Representatives.
Yvette Dennehy performed America the Beautiful and God Bless America during the program. Names of soldiers who had passed away since the last Memorial Day were read, followed by a 21-Gun Salute and the playing of Taps. The flag, which had flown at half-mast in honor of the dead was raised at the end of the ceremony in tribute to all who have served.