By MADDY VITALE
The names of the fallen service men and women were called out by American Legion Post Commander Bob Marzulli.
As Marzulli read the names into a microphone at Veterans Memorial Park in Ocean City Monday, VFW Post 6650 member Joe Waters rang a bell.
There was silence from the hundreds of audience members — from veterans to current members of the military, to families, police and fire personnel, and city officials.
All that could be heard was the resounding clang of the bell.
The reading of the honor roll paid respect to those who served and sacrificed to make the lives better for others and to protect freedom.
Video courtesy of Martin Fiedler of Just Right TV Productions LLC.
Throughout the ceremony, speakers reflected on their time in the military and asked that all who were listening to never forget those who have served.
VFW Post 6650 Commander Mike Morrissey recalled his service in the Vietnam War and the many sacrifices he and others in the military made. He spoke of how all wars fought come with a “steep price.”
“Today is a day to remember men and women who died for our freedom,” Morrissey said.
He listed the numbers of casualties of war from brothers who died, to fathers and sons, to women nurses who died while helping the wounded.
“For most Americans who read these names, they will only see the numbers (of deaths) war created. To us who survived the war, we see the faces. We are haunted until we pass, haunted by the loss of our friends,” Morrissey said of the names inscribed in memorial walls across the country.
He continued, “Now, you know why the walls are so powerful. The price of freedom is steep.”
Marzulli also spoke of the somberness of the day.
“Remember, today is about veterans who are not here. This is a solemn day,” he noted. “When you see a veteran today, thank them for their service.”
Among the tributes, was one for those who were never found and for prisoners of war.
American Legion Post 524 Adjutant Jack Hagan explained the meaning of a table adjacent to him as he stood behind a podium.
A small table was draped with white tablecloth and a red rose. A glass was inverted on the table. There was one, empty chair.
Steeped in symbolism, the table and other items represented the soldiers who were taken prisoner or went missing in action and never returned home from war.
Hagan explained that the white tablecloth symbolized the purity of the soldiers and the red rose represented the blood they may have spilled.
“Let us remember and never, ever forget their sacrifices,” Hagan said.
The glass was turned upside down because there was no opportunity for those soldiers to enjoy a celebratory post-war toast, he explained.
A slice of lemon was set on the table to remind all of the service member’s bitter fate. The chair remained empty because the soldiers are still missing.
But a white candle was also placed on the table, symbolizing the hope that all of the missing soldiers will someday return home.
In addition to the speakers, there was a presentation of the wreath by Chief Warrant Officer Joe Bisbing of the Marines of Post 6650 and Air Force Lt. Colonel Tom Dahl.
The Armed Forces Medley led to applause as service men and women stood up when their particular branch of the military music played.
And Taps was performed by Greg Murphy from Buglers Across America. Junior Miss Ocean City’s Natalie Argento sang the National Anthem and God Bless America during the ceremony.
While Mayor Jay Gillian could not attend the ceremony because he was sick, words read by his aide, Michael Allegretto, told of Gillian’s immense gratitude to those who have served and sacrificed and those currently serving.
“Remember and reflect the many service members who are on the wall today. Across the world, they are still sacrificing their lives,” Gillian said in a statement read by Allegretto. “They gave their lives. We bow our heads and thanks. I hope everyone here will remember it is a time to pay tribute to our heroes. God bless you all.”