Delawareans remember fallen soldiers at memorial service

The service honoring Delaware's fallen military members takes place May 30, the date Memorial Day was observed until 1970.

Service members and veterans participated in the annual Memorial Day service in New Castle, Delaware, Wednesday. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Service members and veterans participated in the annual Memorial Day service in New Castle, Delaware, Wednesday. (Zoe Read/WHYY)

Two days after the Memorial Day holiday, veterans, active duty military, and their loved ones joined to remember soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the U.S.

Gathered in New Castle, they sang the national anthem and “God Bless America,” bowed their heads in prayer and laid yellow flowers on a wreath.

The event was the annual Delaware Veterans Memorial Day Service at Veterans Memorial Park — where the names of fallen service members from Delaware and New Jersey are etched in a monument.

“This is an opportunity to recognize the loved ones, veterans, service members who were lost, and as a result we have Memorial Day,” said Lawrence Kirby, executive director of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, which organizes the service.

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“Now, because we’re a beach community, unfortunately we see much of the traffic going down to Rehoboth and Bethany,” he said. “But this day, Memorial Day, actually gives us that opportunity to pay homage to those who served before us, who are currently serving, and who have unfortunately lost their lives as a result.”

Some individuals, like Charles Armbruster of the American Legion, have been attending the event — held on the date Memorial Day was observed until 1970 — for up to 20 years.

“Personally, it means a lot,” said the Amy veteran. “I lost my platoon leader in Vietnam within about 5 feet from where we’re standing, so it means a lot. I think about him every January, along with Memorial Day.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney, and federal and state legislators also spoke during the event.

“More than any other holiday, Memorial Day straddles that line between the personal and the collective. On the one hand, it’s a day to reflect on the enormity of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform have made on our behalf,” said Carney. “In Delaware, we can see that sacrifice in the individual numbers and the lives they represent.

“On the other hand, this day isn’t about the numbers or about that collective tragedy we experience as part of war. The day is deeply personal — because it’s about fathers, it’s about mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, and friends,” the governor continued. “Common people — just like all of us — but with uncommon courage, who made that ultimate sacrifice for their country.”

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