East­ern Shore hon­ors fallen mil­i­tary he­roes

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

FEDERALSBURG — A steady rain Mon­day forced the an­nual Memo­rial Day cer­e­mony at East­ern Shore Vet­er­ans Ceme­tery in Hur­lock to move in­side to the Federalsburg VFW but Pa­tri­cia McCoy, 1st vice com­man­der of the Mary­land Amer­i­can Le­gion, took the sign as the fallen mil­i­tary vet­er­ans were watch­ing over ever yone.

“There is a song called ‘Holes in the Floor of Heaven’ and I be­lieve those, who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice are watch­ing over us to­day as we pay our re­spects,” McCoy said. “When we look out over the wa­ters, out over the ocean, you never know what we could have been or who we would be un­der con­trol of if it had not been for our men and women who have served this coun­try, and paid the supreme sac­ri­fice with their lives.”

The cer­e­mony hon­ored U.S. mil­i­tar y vet­er­ans that paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice and those who have passed away. It fea­tured songs played by the Eas­ton Mid­dle School band, re­marks from lo­cal and state of­fi­cials, the lay­ing of wreaths and a ri­fle vol­ley salute by the sher­iff offices in Dorch­ester and Caroline coun­ties.

McCoy told a story about a fam­ily from Rose Haven learn­ing about the death of a fam­ily mem­ber in Iraq.

“A fam­ily go­ing about their every­day du­ties, a mother at home get­ting pre­pared for din­ner heard a car pull up in the drive­way,” she said. “She looked out. Two Army of­fi­cers came out of the car, walked up to their door. She was home alone when they said ‘Ma’am, we are here to in­form you that Staff Sgt. Christo­pher Swan­son was killed by a sniper’s bul­let in Iraq, yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.’

“I don’t know whether a lot of you have ever faced that kind of sit­u­a­tion,” McCoy said. “I know a lot of our fam­i­lies from World War II faced that. My own fam­ily faced that when they called and said my un­cle was killed in World War II.

“A young mother, her son, third tour in Iraq. He knew that we were do­ing what was right,” she said. “He knew that we were there to help the chil­dren of Iraq, to learn what free­dom is all about. He gave his life, go­ing back to Iraq for the third time. That is who we are here to honor to­day. Those men and women who gave their lives for us, for this great na­tion so that we can as­sem­ble to­gether to­day to pay trib­ute to them.”

McCoy said the same re­spect and trib­ute should also be made for law en­force­ment.

“The things that are hap­pen­ing to­day, you never know what could hap­pen to them,” she said. “I am the daugh­ter of two po­lice of­fi­cers. I know what it was like, not know­ing ev­ery day when my par­ents went to work, what could hap­pen that day.

“It is the same with our mil­i­tary,” she said. “We never know but we will be pre­pared be­cause we love our countr y and we love the men and women who serve it. We will con­tinue stand­ing to­gether for them and sup­port them no mat­ter what.”

Mary­land Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder pre­sented a Memo­rial Day procla­ma­tion from Gov. Larry Ho­gan.

“On Memo­rial Day, as through­out the year, we honor the men and women in uni­form who an­swered the call of duty to main­tain the se­cu­rity of our coun­try and the lib­er­ties we hold so dear,” Ho­gan said in the procla­ma­tion. “We, as Amer­i­cans, have the solemn duty to per­pet­u­ate the mem­ory of those who be­lieved so deeply in what our coun­try could be and are will­ing to give their lives to pro­tect this free­dom.”

U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski staff mem­ber Linda Prochaska read a state­ment from the senator.

“Memo­rial Day is not about the sale at the mall or open­ing day at the com­mu­nity pool,” Mikul­ski wrote. “Memo­rial Day is about the men and women who left home and hearth to serve our coun­try. They left good jobs, great friends and won­der­ful fam­i­lies to do what had to be done. We come to this place to­day to honor them, es­pe­cially those who did not re­turn. We come to say ‘Thank you’.

“In these tense and fear­ful times, the peo­ple of the United States have come to de­pend on the men and women of our armed ser­vices more and more,” Mikul­ski wrote. “We know and re­mem­ber them as sol­diers, sailors, air­men and marines. We re­mem­ber them as WACS and WAVEs, Coast Guards­men, Mer­chant Marines Re­servists and National Guard per­son­nel. They have served in ev­ery con­flict for which Amer­i­cans have been forced to take up arms. We re­mem­ber them and we are grate­ful.”

A state­ment from U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin also was read by his staff mem­ber Kim­berly Kra­tovil at the cer­e­mony.

“Amer­i­cans live free, secure and sta­ble lives thanks to gen­er­a­tions of men and women in uni­form who were will­ing to sac­ri­fice their own,” Cardin stated. “We must never for­get the tremen­dous debt we owe those brave Amer­i­cans. It is in large part be­cause of them that Amer­ica serves as a bea­con of hope, free­dom and equal­ity to all of the world.

“To­day, we do not only honor the men and women who have lost their lives in re­cent years,” he stated. “We honor ev­ery Amer­i­can who has ever given their life in de­fense of the val­ues and free­doms we en­joy to­day. From Yorktown to Fort McHenry, from An­ti­etam to Pearl Har­bor, to­day we salute the cen­turies-old le­gacy of sac­ri­fice and self­less­ness that de­fines our na­tion.”

Af­ter the wreath lay­ing cer­e­mony and the ri­fle vol­ley salute, the cer­e­mony paused for a play­ing of taps.

PHOTO BY JAMES HENNING

Sher­iff offices in Dorch­ester and Caroline coun­ties honor fallen sol­diers with a ri­fle vol­ley salute dur­ing Mon­day’s Memo­rial Day cer­e­mony at the Federalsburg VFW.

Past and present U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers lay wreaths at Mon­day’s Memo­rial Day cer­e­mony Federalsburg to honor fallen mil­i­tary mem­bers. in

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Mary­land Amer­i­can Le­gion 1st Vice Com­man­der Pa­tri­cia McCoy was the guest speaker at Mon­day’s Memo­rial Day cer­e­mony at the Federalsburg VFW.

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