GEORGETOWN — The honored remembrance of military personnel who gave their lives for America and her freedom took center stage on The Circle on Sunday.
The Sussex County Memorial Day Ceremony, highlighted by a flyover, focused on remembering those who died in battle and their loved ones.
“There are people in this audience today that have lost loved ones to the war,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “They remember and think about them every day. Every time they do something, every time they see something on TV, they remember. And we need to remember. Not only the ones that didn’t make it home, but we need to remember the family members because they are just as important to us as anybody on God’s green Earth.”
The Circle was closed to traffic for the ceremony, attended by several hundred people.
“God bless everybody that came out on this warm day,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Walter Koopman, a Korean War veteran, who shared the poem, “Field of Poppies,” and the history of Flanders Field, a major battle theater during World War I.
“Lord, we just thank you so much for this day you (have) given us, … the opportunity to be here today, Lord, to remember those that have given their life for their country,” said Mike Hills, chaplain for the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association.
Sussex County vocalist Cathy Gorman led the audience in the national anthem and “God Bless America,” and Boy Scout Troop 95 of Georgetown assisted in the wreath presentation. State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn was master of ceremonies.
Shortly after “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in the sky from the east came Panchito, a B-25 Mitchell bomber piloted by Larry Kelley, and another aircraft piloted by Jeff Chorman in a tandem flyover.
Earlier in the program, a Civil Air Patrol plane flown by Will Trussell and Maj. Danny Long glided over The Circle.
Mayor West focused on what Memorial Day is all about, stressing it is far more than a three-day weekend for barbecues, outdoor fun and gatherings with family and friends.
“Monday will be the most expensive holiday on the calendar. Every hot dog, every burger, every spin around the lake, every drink with friends and family … is a debt purchased by others,” he said.
“This is not about those who served. That day (Veterans Day) comes in the fall. This one is to honor those who paid in life and blood, whose moms never saw them again, whose dads wept in private, whose wives raised kids alone and whose kids only remember them from a picture.”
Mayor West continued, “This isn’t simply a day off. This is a day to remember others who paid for every free breath that you take — freedom. They gave it to us. We need to be proud of what they have done for us.
“This weekend, do more than remember. … Pass on their legacy to the next generation.”