On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who traded their tomorrows for our todays.
We remember and pay tribute not only to those who return to Dover Air Force Base on their way home to their loved ones but to the families who come from across the nation and beyond to receive their loved ones in a dignified-transfer ceremony.
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations and its morticians from every branch of the military receive and process the remains and personal effects of the fallen. They dress the fallen in uniform with all of their ribbons, while their families are temporarily housed at the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen and other nearby locations.
To honor all the fallen, Kent County Chapter 850 of the Vietnam Veterans of America will host its annual ceremony Monday at 2 p.m. at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, South Little Creek Road, Dover.
Our keynote speaker, retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Herbert Earl Welday III, will represent Friends of the Fallen, volunteers who work with families during their stay here. They are available 24/7 in four-hour shifts.
Nor should we forget those whose remains lie undiscovered, waiting one day to be repatriated.
In addition to recent casualties, more than 81,500 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts. Seventy-five percent of the losses are located in the Indo-Pacific, and over 41,000 are presumed lost at sea in ships and aircraft lost over water. More than 26 American cemeteries containing those lost in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam are located in 16 countries, including Cuba, Belgium, France, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Morocco and South Korea. About 124,000 gravesites are marked missing in action. They are maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission and lie under the American flag.
Nor should we forget those who returned from all conflicts with physical and psychological life-shortening injuries, who regularly join the “Post Everlasting,” as noted by the American Legion.
Recently, members of Dover Capital City Rotary Club and Delaware Technical Community College, along with fellow veterans and about a dozen volunteers from the John S. Charlton School, placed 400 flags on the Terry Campus, which will fly until Wednesday. They will be seen by hundreds of thousands of vehicles, while they proudly wave in the wind. Drive by, take a photo, salute and say a prayer for those who selflessly protected us.
What a better nation we would be if we stopped telling each other to have a happy Memorial Day and instead reminded each other to have a grateful one.
President, Delaware Veterans Coalition