Letter to the Editor: ‘I saw the sign and followed it’

Today will not only feature fireworks and barbecues, but also plenty of speeches by public figures celebrating and acknowledging our freedoms.

But beyond the fabulous displays that stir bad memories in some veterans, the fireworks remind us of the hard won conflicts that resulted in the freedoms many take for granted.

Dover’s Green features a small patch of bricks in front of the Old State House that marks the spot where the porch of a small building stood from which the Declaration of Independence was read to assembled citizens on August 29, 1776.

The highly inflammatory document condemned the King of England and was in effect a declaration of war against one of the most powerful nations on earth. The 56 signers risked (and mostly lost) everything – homes, property, and their privileged stations in life — and faced the hangman for treason.

Seventy five years later, the Civil War that guaranteed we would remain one nation cost 600,000 American lives — more than the total of all other American conflicts.

We recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the landings at Normandy that marked the beginning of the Allied counterattack in Europe as savage fighting in Asia continued.

Korea followed, then Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As the open-book design of the Middle East Conflicts Memorial at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park indicates, conflicts will continue there and in other lesser-known places as flag-covered transfer cases arrive at Dover AFB.

Military service is a tradition that runs in families and Ronald Reagan said it well: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Veterans don’t decide where conflicts begin or end. They only serve. But one thing they value is loyalty to and love of country and how best to pass it along.

It’s why we were touched by a recent note from a lady passing though Dover on the way back from a visit to the beach with her children. Looking for a place to eat a picnic lunch, she noted, “I saw the sign for the Memorial Park and followed it.”

They visited the memorials to Gold Star families and to Kent Countians lost in Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East, as well as a War Dog memorial, a Huey Helicopter and a Chair of Honor.

In a handwritten note on the back of a brick order form at the site, she wrote, “I was moved to tears as I, with my three children, stood and read each sign. I was educated and in awe as I reflected on the honor and bravery of those who served …. Thank you for maintaining this park and for the great sacrifices made by all vets and their families. God bless you always.”

We responded by inviting her family to our Nov. 11 ceremony that will mark the 10th anniversary of the park and in keeping with our practice of asking a child to lead us in the pledge of allegiance, invited her children to fill that role.

We look forward to meeting her and hope readers will educate their children for the reason behind the coming celebration that some proud veterans will be watching from a distance.

Dave Skocik

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave Skocik is a Vietnam veteran and president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition.

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