In a 1963 speech in honor of poet Robert Frost, President John F. Kennedy said that a nation “reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
Eric Lott, guest speaker at Seaford’s Memorial Day ceremony, told the crowd gathered in Kiwanis Park that he often thinks of that quote. “Today, we are honoring the men and women who have laid down their lives for our country,” he said. “When our country called, they answered. They left the comfort and safety of their homes and rose up to take on evil around the world.”
It was because of their sacrifice, he added, “that we are able to gather here in peace and security.”
Lott is the new senior naval science instructor for the Jr. ROTC program at Seaford High School. A 24-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, he retired earlier this month from U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk.
“It is important that we come together as a community to honor Memorial Day, and to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives,” he said during his remarks. “I hate to imagine what life would be like for us without their service.”
The Memorial Day commemoration was held Monday morning under clear blue skies. As he has for years, Pete Bohn, a Seaford police officer and retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot, served as master of ceremonies. “A lot of folks are doing the barbecue and beach today,” he told those in attendance. “We appreciate your being here.”
Present in the audience were family members of Cory Palmer and Rick James, both of whom were killed in Iraq in 2006. “Our hearts and prayers are with you,” Mayor David Genshaw told the families. “I feel an incredible sense of gratitude, to you and also to those who went to war and came home, but who would have willingly done the same thing your sons did.”
Genshaw said that it is important to make sure that children understand the sacrifices that people have made for the country, a sentiment that state Rep. Danny Short echoed. To commemorate the day, his grandchildren built a red, white and blue heart in his front yard. “They wanted to make a representation of what the message is that we should be telling today,” he said.
State Sen. Bryant Richardson reminded those in attendance that “the United States is one nation under God.”
“We serve a mighty God, we serve the creator of the universe,” he added. “We can never forget that if we want to remain free and we want to remain strong.”
The Seaford High School band, under the direction of Dustin Giffin, played patriotic music, including the Star-Spangled Banner, for the ceremony. Members of the Seaford High Jr. ROTC program presented a gun salute and Charles Michel and Kenny Richardson, both of Seaford, played taps. Michel is a member of American Legion Post 6 and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Richardson served in the Navy from 1985 through 1989.
Among the members of the audience were Amy and George Pearson, Seaford. They were there to hear the performance by the SHS band, where their son, Jed, is drum major.
But they were also there in honor of Amy’s father, Harold Courbourn, who served with the Army Air Corps during World War II and who rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Delaware National Guard. Coulbourn, who was a pilot and flew a Lockheed P-38 Lightning while stationed at the Panama Canal, died in 1994.
“We are here to honor those who sacrificed so that we could have the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Amy said. “We also want to respect those who are still serving today, and all of those who served in the past.”
“Being here today is a great way to support the military,” George added. “It’s important to remember the sacrifices that they made to protect our way of life.”