by Terry Rogers
On Monday, May 28 the American Legion Post 3, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6483 and the Milford Community Band honored the soldiers that have served the United States Military and given the ultimate sacrifice, with a Memorial Day Service held at the Milford Senior Center. Charles Garrod, a Korean War Veteran, assumed the role of Ceremony Chairman and led the event as over 200 residents came out to honor the memory of family and friends. Boy Scout Troops 186 and 116 as well as Cub Scout Packs 186 and 116 assisted in the presentation of the United States and Delaware flags as part of the ceremony.
“It is an honor to be here,” said Mayor Archie Campbell. “This is a very important day to remember those who are not with us. They stepped up and gave their lives. They were different people, different races, different religions, but they came together and gave the ultimate sacrifice. We must thank them for that. Today, I say congratulations to those who gave their all. I look up to the sky and say ‘may God’s grace be with you.’”
After Mayor Campbell’s remarks, Walter Koopman read the poem “In Flanders Fields,” a war poem written during World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after he presided over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier who died during the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was first published on December 8, 1915 in a London magazine. After its publication, parts of the poem were used to recruit soldiers and sell war bonds, especially the section of the poem which talked about the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers. The red poppy became a symbol for those who died in conflict and have been used to acknowledge Memorial Day for many years.
Lieutenant General Henry ‘Hank” McCann was the keynote speaker at the event. McCann was first commissioned in 1975 and, in 1986, joined the National Guard where he became an Executive Officer.
“I am here to honor our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” McCann said. “Ten years ago, I trained a unit to serve in Iraq. They had the awesome responsibility of providing communications in that country. Every soldier performed their duties in an outstanding manner, but the best part is that everyone of them came home. The fallen soldiers we honor today model courage, pride, duty and selflessness. To go in harm’s way and for some to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country is something amazing. We owe them so much. They are ordinary people who gave the extraordinary. Since the first shot at Lexington, people have answered the call to duty. Citizens follow in the footsteps of those brave people who gave us our freedom from the start.”
Senator Gary Simpson, who will retire from office in November, commented that he was humbled and grateful to be speaking at the event for the last time, saying that it was an honor to serve the area over the years.
“Today, we come together to thank those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Senator Simpson said. “If not for their service, we would not have the right to visit our church, our mosque or our synagogue and pray to our higher power. Without their sacrifice, we would not have the right to openly disagree with our government without fear of imprisonment. We have all this and so much more because of the men and women who gave their last breath for our freedom.”
Members of the audience joined the Milford community Band during the event in the national anthem, the battle hymn of the Republic and God Bless America. In addition to the twenty one gun salute, members of the Milford veterans organization read the names of members that have died in the past year as the remembrance bell was sounded after each name.
Representative Harvey Kenton also spoke at the ceremony. Representative Kenton, who is a U.S. Navy veteran, said that Memorial Day should also be a reminder of the sacrifices made by men and women in the Armed Forces today.
“I lost an uncle during World War II, an uncle I never met,” Representative Kenton said. “My mother told me stories of how proud the family was when he went off to war. He left home at 19 and came home in a box with a flag. That is what we need to remember on this important day.”
Representative Charles Postles offered a profound thank you to those that served in the military. He commented that the Founding Fathers created a system of government that worked amazingly well and that if it were not for the military, that system of government may not exist today.
Former Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe commented that it takes a community to “make sure that the memory of these heroes are not forgotten” as he pointed to the Milford Rotary Clubs Flags for Heroes display in Downtown Milford. “When you leave this ceremony today, be sure to walk through Bicentennial Park,” Shupe said. “Take a moment to reflect on the flags placed there by the Milford Rotary Club. Each of those is in honor of someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.”
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