OCEAN CITY – Seven flags flew proudly at half-staff on Monday at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial in Ocean Pines as hundreds gathered to honor and remember those who have served our country.
Veterans, friends and family gathered on Monday morning to observe the 3rd annual celebration. The ceremony began with a welcome from Sharyn O’Hare, president of the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation, Inc., who described Memorial Day as, “a day to remember those who have served our country … and to remember those who have not died in vain.”
The patriotic ceremony continued with the posting of colors by Stephen Decatur High School’s JROTC, followed by the singing of the National Anthem, several other musical performances, and an introduction of this year’s keynote speaker, Major Edwards (Ted) S. Little, Jr. (USANG). Little’s father, Navy Captain Edwards (Ed) S. Little, Sr., was the keynote speaker at the 2006 celebration of Memorial Day at the Veterans Memorial in Ocean Pines.
Edwards (Ted) S. Little, Jr. spent five years in active duty with the 197th Infantry Brigade and the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division. Little saw his first combat duty during Operation Dessert Storm in Iraq in 1991 receiving several active duty awards. He was most recently activated in January 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Ramadi, Iraq. He received a Bronze Star for his combat duty there. Little returned home in June 2006, reuniting with his wife and son and is currently teaching eighth grade American History in Etters, Pa.
“It is important to remember that Memorial Day should be a celebration of those who lost their lives,” said Little.
Little spoke of his most recent time in combat in Ramadi, Iraq as a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division. He spoke of the men who he proudly served with and of those friends that he lost at war but that did not die in vain.
“How do we foster the importance of Memorial Day in the years to come?” asked Little as he focused on America’s youth and future. “The answer my friends is in education.”
Little went on to stress the importance of educating younger generations and the potential that they hold for our country. As an American History teacher, Little sees first hand how young people view America and patriotism and spoke specifically of his own students’ views on Memorial Day. He has also worked with many 18-year-old men serving our country and spoke proudly of the young men and their dedication to fighting for freedom.
Little quoted General George Patton saying, “It is better to die for something rather than live for nothing,” evoking nods and words of agreement from the audience.
Little’s address was met with both tears and applause, bringing the ceremony into full swing. The address was followed by presentations of wreaths to the EX-POW’s MD East Chapter and also to the Women’s Veterans, accompanied by musical performances from the Ocean City Pipe Band and the Ecumenical Choir of the Eastern Shore respectively.
The ceremony also included a musical performance by Randy Lee Ashcraft, who paused during his rendition of Proud to Be an American after being brought to tears.
The event continued with a tribute to military families and an introduction of the Gold Star mothers. This special recognition honored mothers Elsie Bowen, Katherine Federico, Debbie Grove and Mary Suplee.
A dedication from the memorial’s board of directors concluded the ceremony with a presentation of “The Waiting Bench,” which was dedicated to all of the men and women who are still fighting and to those who are waiting to return home to their loved ones.