A tale of two celebrations

It was a memorable Memorial Day weekend, and the many methods of celebration provided a contrast in styles.

Yesterday I found myself at an American Legion post outside Millsboro, Delaware for the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Just as the sign says, this is the Concert for a Random Soldier. A total of nine bands participated, with some players also doing some solo work.

From the reports given, this concert gets more participation and attendance each year.

It was a pretty full house under the pavilion at American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro, Delaware.

Some people got up and danced the day away. Later this week I’ll do a separate Weekend of Local Rock post, but here’s the reaction to one of the bands, 8 Track Flashback.

This couple enjoyed the oldies played by one of the participating bands, 8 Track Flashback.

It was a pretty day and venue.

Looking at the venue from the parking lot. The pavilion is about three years old and proved to be a fine venue on a sunny day.

Yet there was more to do than just listen to music. They had plenty of food for sale as well.

How about some bratwurst? This was just one of the things you could eat at the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Or you could take in the car show; this one was my personal favorite.

Aaaaah, the era before OPEC raised its ugly head. This is a sharp Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible from 1972.

How about buying a shirt? Actually, this is what I wore today to the following subject of my post.

For a donation, you could buy an event shirt. The nice thing is having the band list to see who helped out.

The beneficiary foundation was named after a local soldier who was killed in action.

The foundation gets the money, but the proceeds from this event were going to a group called Guitars for Vets.

His mother, Terri Clifton, spearheaded the event after Chad was killed in 2005. From humble beginnings it’s grown over the last 4 years.

Event organizer and Gold Star Mother Terri Clifton.

In truth there were actually nine bands since one dropped at the last minute, but it made for a full day of music. Nor is this the only event the Chad Clifton Foundation holds.

A 5-K run in July might not be the first thing on my to-do list, but for those in military shape it should be a piece of cake.

The final picture in my Concert for a Random Soldier story is just because.

I just liked the picture of the tank and flag, that's all.

Perhaps it leads me into my description of this morning’s events at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. Unlike the growth and change in the Concert for a Random Soldier over the last four years, Wicomico County’s commemoration ceremony changes little from year to year, even to the point of many participants being longtime veterans of the event itself. One example: Tony Sarbanes as master of ceremonies.

As has been the case each year, former County Councilman Tony Sarbanes served as master of ceremonies.

The Junior ROTC provides the manpower to lower the flags to half-staff.

JROTC cadets stand at attention after lowering the flags at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Unfortunately, the oppressive heat claimed one of their numbers as a casualty, but she was relieved quickly and the ceremony carried on without her. Seemingly the event is always held on a warm, muggy morning.

Those who are various members of the military are recognized, along with elected officials. We also get representatives from the offices of Maryland’s Senators and Congressman Frank Kratovil.

County Executive Richard Pollitt (center) looks on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

A group of county elected officials look on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony. From left is County Councilman David MacLeod, a man I cannot identify, County Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich, County Councilman John Cannon, Sheriff Mike Lewis, and County Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman. County Councilman Joe Holloway, State's Attorney Davis Ruark, and Delegates Norm Conway and Jim Mathias were also present.

After prayers to represent each branch of the military, we moved on to the tolling of the Red Knights Memorial Bell and reading of the names of Wicomico County’s fallen. These tasks have always been done by John Lynch and Ed Tattersall, respectively.

John Lynch always doubts he'll see the next year's ceremony but he hasn't been right on that yet. He tolled the Red Knights Memorial Bell at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Ed Tattersall recites the names of nearly 190 Wicomico County citizens killed in war since World War I at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

While Matthew Wallace plays ‘Amazing Grace’ a wreath is brought forth to a place of honor.

Matthew Wallace plays 'Amazing Grace' on his bagpipes during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

The wreath used at Wicomico County's Memorial Day ceremony.

The Wicomico County Sheriff Department has a detail which handles the volley of arms.

The volley of arms is performed by a trio from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department.

One change comes in the duo playing “Taps.” This year it’s Isaiah Oakley and John Jochum doing the honors.

The mournful sound of 'Taps' being performed at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

With that, we hear the benediction (as always, performed by the Reverend J. Harvey Dixon) and we move on.

Most linger a little while to catch up with old friends; sadly, in more and more cases each year’s ceremony is the last for a certain number of World War II and Korean War veterans, with Vietnam veterans not that far behind in getting older and grayer. Soon it will be up to those who have survived the wars of my generation fought in the Middle East to carry on the tradition – including those contemporaries of Chad Clifton.

They will inherit a tradition left in good hands by those who fought decades or even a half-century ago. But even they simply carried on a line of honor unbroken since the aftermath of the War Between the States and I’m faithful in my belief that the torch will passed on to yet another Greatest Generation. While a concert may break from a solemn tradition, it is one way to remember the fallen and a reminder that there’s no “right way” to honor those who served.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

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