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.
From the reports given, this concert gets more participation and attendance each year.
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.
It was a pretty day and venue.
Yet there was more to do than just listen to music. They had plenty of food for sale as well.
Or you could take in the car show; this one was my personal favorite.
How about buying a shirt? Actually, this is what I wore today to the following subject of my post.
The beneficiary foundation was named after a local soldier who was killed in action.
His mother, Terri Clifton, spearheaded the event after Chad was killed in 2005. From humble beginnings it’s grown over the last 4 years.
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.
The final picture in my Concert for a Random Soldier story is just because.
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.
The Junior ROTC provides the manpower to lower the flags to half-staff.
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.
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.
While Matthew Wallace plays ‘Amazing Grace’ a wreath is brought forth to a place of honor.
The Wicomico County Sheriff Department has a detail which handles the volley of arms.
One change comes in the duo playing “Taps.” This year it’s Isaiah Oakley and John Jochum doing the honors.
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.