Seaford Memorial Day speaker suggests ways to honor those killed in battle

By Lynn R. Parks

The guest speaker at Monday's Memorial Day ceremony in Seaford had three suggestions for ways citizens can honor serviceman and servicewomen who were killed in battle. The first, said Major William C. Farley, USMC (ret.), is to ask their families to tell stories about them.

"We should give them the opportunity to talk about their loved ones," he said. "We should ask, what do their memories mean to them, and what should they mean to us? It is of some comfort to them to know that the lives and spirits of their loved ones live on."

Farley told the audience in the auditorium at Seaford High School that he had taken his own advice recently and talked with Carol James, Seaford, about her son Rick, a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2006. "She was kind enough to tell me a little bit about him," he said. Her son's "personality filled the house," she told Farley. Rick loved practical jokes and always had to have a task at hand. He was killed during his second tour in Iraq.

"But his story doesn't end there," Farley said. "His memory lives on. There may be an empty chair at the dinner table, but his spirit still lives and fills the family circle."

The second thing that people can do to honor the war dead is to take care of their families, Farley said.

And third, "work to make your families strong," he said. "Work to make your communities better places to live and work to keep your nation free. Those are the differences that we can make to honor their memories."

The service, scheduled to be held in Kiwanis Park in front of the city's war memorial, was moved indoors because of rain.

State Rep. Daniel Short told the audience that for the families of those killed in action, the fact that it was raining was significant.

"I really think that the rain is tears from above," said Short, a Vietnam War-era Army veteran and son of a World War II Navy veteran. "I feel this deep regret every day, this solemnity, that we aren't doing enough to support our veterans."

State Sen. Bryant Richardson spoke about the fact that the 60th anniversary of Congress' adoption of "In God We Trust" as the nation's motto will be in July. He said that he and Short are working on a joint resolution recognizing the day.

"We must not forget to honor God and to put our trust in him," Richardson said.

Seaford Mayor David Genshaw praised veterans for sacrifice beyond his understanding. "Memorial Day is about freedom, sacrifice and what people have given to this nation," he said. "To those who are serving today on behalf of our country, we just can't thank you enough."

Robert Atkinson, mayor of Blades, said that 10 generations of his family have served in the U.S. armed forces. He said that the sacrifice of the war dead was best described by President Abraham Lincoln, who in his Gettysburg Address called it their "last full measure of devotion."

Master of ceremonies was Lt. Pete Bohn, a Seaford police officer and retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He said that Memorial Day is a "time of quiet prayer and remembrance" and he urged people, "by word or deed," to express their patriotism.

Opening and closing prayers were offered by the Rev. Carlton Cannon, minister at the Clarence Street Church of God, Seaford, and a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who earned three Purple Hearts. "Without those who are willing to serve, there would be no freedom," he said. "There would be no America."

Cannon chastised the nation for insufficiently honoring its veterans. "It seems as though we have forgotten those who were willing to die for this nation," he prayed. He asked God to "bring them to our memories, so that we always remember and so that every day is Memorial Day."

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