Veterans of Middle East, Afghanistan conflicts to be honored in Dover

DOVER — The city will host a parade Saturday to recognize veterans and state officials will dedicate a monument at Legislative Hall honoring Delawareans who served in the Middle East and Afghanistan conflicts.

“I hope this turns into an annual event,” said Lori Christiansen, director of legislative council for the Delaware Division of Research.

The event is sponsored by the Delaware General Assembly in conjunction with the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, the Delaware National Guard, the city of Dover, the Downtown Dover Partnership and state veterans’ organizations.

04dsn veterans Robin C Gibbs by .

Robin C. Gibbs

The Veterans’ Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Duncan Center at 500 Loockerman St. and proceed through west Dover, move east along Loockerman Street, turn right onto Federal Street and end at Legislative Mall.

“Two years ago we had a dedication ceremony and we wanted it to be bigger,” Ms. Christiansen said. “We bounced ideas off each other and decided to put this together.”

She said more than 55 groups have signed up and she anticipates more. She also said businesses are encouraged to post “Thank You, Veterans!” on their marquees on Saturday.

The parade will be followed by a noon dedication of the monument honoring Middle East and Afghanistan veterans.

Twenty-one Delawareans have lost their lives in the Middle East and Afghanistan since 1991.

The monument will be located at the northeast corner of the Legislative Mall grounds, facing Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North.

It will be similar in size and design to the World War II monument dedicated in 2013.

A post-event reception will be held in the Delaware Archives building at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. North in Dover.

Capt. Robin R. Gibbs, a Dover High School graduate, will serve as the keynote speaker during the memorial ceremony.

“I was honored when they asked me to be the keynote speaker,” she said. “There are so many other people that are worthy of speaking on their experiences that I just felt honored.”

She is a Nurse Corps officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and currently practices in Virginia as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Recently promoted to the rank of captain, she is the officer in charge of one of the largest detachments in the Expeditionary Medical Facility in Bethesda, Md.

Her detachment trains at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and performs surgery as a standalone surgical unit. It is the only unit of its kind in the Navy.

“As of right now, I don’t know what I’m going speak about,” Capt. Gibbs said. “I have a few ideas, but I hope to just remind people the camaraderie of airmen.

“The people that you serve with become your family.”

Ms. Christiansen is proud of Capt. Gibbs.

“I went to Dover (High School) with her and I’m proud of everything that she has done,” she said.

Capt. Gibbs said it’s important to continue to honor not only veterans, but those who are currently serving the country as well.

“It’s great when people honor us for what we do,” she said. “We’ve all made the ultimate sacrifice and it’s a great feeling when people continue to recognize those in the past and in the present.”

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