A day of remembrance and honor
By J. Chambless
The Rendering of Honor, presented by the Roy W. Gibson American Legion Post 535 in Oxford.
By John Chambless
With waving flags and solemn speeches,
a marching band and somber salutes, the West Grove community marked
Memorial Day on May 26 with the annual parade and ceremony.
The parade kicked off at 9 a.m. at Avon Grove High School and slowly made its way to the Avon Grove Veterans Memorial in the center of town. Families lined the streets by 8:30 a.m. to get the best view of the parade, which included vintage cars, military vehicles, the Avon Grove High School Marching Band, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and a long line of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles with lights and sirens blazing.
At the memorial, retired Lt. Col. Hank Detering, in his Marine Corps uniform, greeted the crowd and introduced the marching band, which performed the National Anthem. “Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of our country, a remembrance of more than 1 million casualties of our wars. Some of those names are listed here,” he said of the memorial stones near him. “They were local boys who went off to war and never came home.”
Guests seated near the small stage included West Grove Mayor Steve Black, Sen. Andy Dinniman and State Rep. John Lawrence.
“Memorial Day is a day when we can unite with all Americans of every generation,” Dinniman said. “That's what we celebrate today. We give honor to those who have sacrificed, and we honor our past.”
Guest speaker Vicki Dash-Slesinski, an Army veteran and a West Grove resident, spoke about William W. Fahey, the namesake of American Legion Post 491 in Kennett Square; and Roy W. Gibson, the namesake of American Legion Post 535 in Oxford. She gave the backgrounds of the two men and outlined their military service during World War I.
When she joined Post 491 more than 22 years ago, she said, “A large number of the veterans were from the World War II era, a few from World War I, and the rest from Korea and Vietnam. … Most of our older members are gone now, and we are beginning to lose our Korean and Vietnam era members. We have a few young members from the current times, but we need to keep this organization alive and ongoing. I encourage all veterans to become part of brotherhood and sisterhood of this fine organization, and to continue to support the memories of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
She assisted Domenico Ruffini in the laying of a memorial wreath before Charlotte Condliffe and Daniel May of the Avon Grove Marching Band performed “Taps.” Members of the Roy W. Gibson American Legion Post 535 of Oxford then fired three volleys in the Rendering of Honor.
Detering, in his closing remarks, said, “As you go home this weekend, help your friends treat this Memorial Day as more than a time for pools to open, to go to the beach or have a barbeque. Take time to remember the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. For too many American families, every day is Memorial Day. Perhaps on this day of remembrance, Americans can unite around the men and women who risked their lives to defend our freedom.”
Rev. Jim Mundell of the West Grove United Methodist Church closed with a benediction, saying, “Stand in honor of our veterans. Walk in their path of duty. Remember the cost, and hold in your hearts the cause of freedom. It is our civic duty to continue to carry the burden of their sacrifice, lest we lose sight of what true freedom is. God bless America.”
Bagpiper Andrew McIntyre performed “Amazing Grace” before the crowd dispersed to enjoy snacks and music at the West Grove Presbyterian Church, and thank the veterans who had taken part in the morning of remembrance and patriotism.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email email@example.com.