Gold Star Memorial unveiled

The following article was reprinted, courtesy of the Delaware State News

Delaware State News

Monday, Nov. 13, 2012, Page A1
Gold Star Memorial unveiled
Kent County Vietnam veterans introduce marker at ceremony
Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers Delaware Gold Star Mothers president Pauline Anderson, left, and Gold Star Families outreach coordinator Judy Campbell, both of Wilmington, proudly unveil the Gold Star Mothers and Families memorial Monday afternoon at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park as part of the Kent County Vietnam Veterans of America Veterans Day ceremony. More photos on Pages 45 and see a gallery and video at delaware. newszap. com.
By Jen Rini

Delaware State News

DOVER — The periods of war may have spanned generations, but the stories of sacrifice served as the connection.

The Kent County Chapter 850 Vietnam Veterans of America un­veiled the Gold Star Memorial on Monday as part of Veterans Day cer­emonies, as a tribute to Delaware’s families and veterans who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

Master of Ceremonies Dave Skocik, president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition and Vietnam vet­eran, recited the mantra of the Viet­nam Veterans of America during his opening statements. The mantra emphasized the organization’s drive to create a memorial to commemo­rate veterans, both young and old, who have fought in all conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan.

“Never again will one generation abandon another,” Mr. Skocik said.

Joining the gathering were legisla­tors including Sen. Thomas R. Carp­er, D-Del., Delaware Attorney Gen­eral Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, Lt. Gov. Matthew Denn and Rep. Har­vey R. Kenton, R-Milford, expressed their gratitude to the veterans and families present.

“I feel a special kinship with every one of you,” said Sen. Carper, a re­tired captain in the U.S. Navy.  He served three tours of duty in Southeast Asia and his grandmother is a Gold Star mother.

Pauline Anderson, president of Gold Star Mothers, reiterated her appreciation for the community of Gold Star mothers that inspired the memorial.

Mothers from all states honor the memory of their sons and daughters, she said, by volunteering and healing together.

“And after all these years I still get help,” Ms. Anderson said.

Keynote Speaker Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware’s adjutant general, delivered an emotional speech. He commended the men and women in service for their courage and commitment to America as well as the strength of the families whose loved ones didn’t return home.

“It’s a sacrifice that only they can understand,” Maj. Gen. Vavala said, flanked by his two granddaughters.

Maj. Gen. Vavala was also honored for his sacrifices in the service. He first joined the Delaware Army National Guard in 1967 as a private.

He was presented with proclamations from Delaware’s House of Represenatives and Senate which celebrated his leadership in more than 45 years of military service.

“I’m at a loss for words. I am truly honored,” he said.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 president Joseph G. Startt Jr. shared the story of his friend Wayne, who never made it home from Vietnam. He could never get in touch with Wayne’s family, so for years he had been looking for a way to memorialize his friend’s sacrifi ce for America.

“I’ve been thinking about him for 40 years,” Mr. Startt said. This memorial will be a form of closure, he said.

In front of the newly unveiled Indian granite memorial, Terri and Rich Clifton, of Milford, placed a brick in memory of their son Chad who was killed in Iraq.

The Abraham Lincoln quote inscribed the memorial reads: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifi ce upon the alter of freedom.”

Mrs. Clifton softly touched the memorial before her and her husband were comforted by the crowd.

The ceremony came to a close with Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 bagpiper Bill Frantz playing a strong, but solemn, rendition of Amazing Grace as the crowd stood, hands over their hearts.

As the crowd dispersed, Vietnam veteran Danny Seeman chatted with fellow vets, tears welling in his eyes. He also said he sees the unveiling of the memorial as an opportunity to gain closure.

Mr. Seeman, First Vice Commander, served in the second half of the Vietnam conflict and his father served through the first. His two sons are also involved with the military. His oldest son served in the marine corp and his second son just returned home from his third deployment in Afghanistan.

“They paid the ultimate sacrifce,” Mr. Seeman said of the Gold Star families. “I can’t imagine what it is like to lose a son or daughter.”

Staff writer Jen Rini can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow her on Twitter@DSNJen_Rini.

Korean War veteran Sgt. William Richardson of Dover salutes during the national anthem before he recites the pledge of allegiance.
Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers Parker Jones, 4 of Elizabeth City, NC, grandson of Chapter 850 member Peter Senft of Dover, rings the ceremonial bell as each name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is read as Chapter 850 member Woody Postle of Dover assists.
Members of the Dover Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol post the colors at the beginning of the ceremony.


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