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Ocean City Honors Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day

Ocean City Honors Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day


Hundreds of people attended a somber Memorial Day ceremony in Ocean City to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice so that freedom and peace could be possible for so many others in this country.

VFW Post 6650 Commander Mike Morrissey explained to the families who gathered at Veterans Memorial Park that the holiday is not meant to be a sad day.

“It is important for us to remember today is not a sad day, but a respectful day,” Morrissey said. “It is OK to be with family and friends and enjoy that hotdog or cold beer.”

But when enjoying time together, there should be a moment that people reflect and remember those who sacrificed their lives for freedom, he said.

Each year, Morrissey gives remarks during the ceremony about the casualties of war. He tells of brothers who died, of fathers and sons who did not return home and of women who died while helping the wounded.

Video courtesy of Martin Fiedler, Just Right TV Productions

Morrissey also told of the strain that war has on the lives of the service men and women who returned from war. The Army veteran who served in Vietnam calls it “haunting.”

“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.

Mayor Jay Gillian talked about how society as a whole needs to make sure veterans have good healthcare, including assistance for their mental health and wellness.

Mayor Jay Gillian speaks of the needs of veterans.

Gillian said it is great to celebrate veterans, but it is important that the community makes sure they are taken care of for all the good that they have done.

He also said that Ocean City is a “much better town” because of Morrissey and American Legion Post 524 Commander Bob Marzulli.

Throughout the ceremony, other speakers gave tributes to those who served.

Marzulli read a long list of names of men and women who died while serving. He read what is called the honor roll. He spoke of 7,000 deaths during the War on Terrorism.

American Legion Post 524 Commander Bob Marzulli reads the honor roll of the dead.

As Marzulli read the honor roll, a veteran sounded a bell.

“Memorial Day is not about picnics and parades,” Marzulli said, adding that families certainly may enjoy them. “It is about gratitude and remembering and honoring the men and women who made it possible for us to gather today in peace.”

American Legion Post 524 Adjutant Jack Hagan also gave emotional remarks about the meaning of an empty table that was just a few feet from him as he stood at the 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. The table and other items represented the soldiers who were taken prisoner or went missing in action and never returned home from war.

Bugler Greg Murphy performs Taps.

Hagan explained that the white tablecloth symbolized the purity of the soldiers and the red rose represented the blood they may have spilled.

Hagan told the attendees to never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The glass was turned upside down because there was no opportunity for those soldiers to enjoy a celebratory post-war toast. 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.

Spectators applaud during the Armed Forces Medley.

During the ceremony, the Armed Forces Medley led to applause for the service men and women who stood up when their particular branch of the military music played.

At the end of the ceremony, there was a presentation of the wreath by Judge Advocate Fred Distell of the American Legion Post 524 and George Meyers of VFW Post 6650.

Taps was performed by Greg Murphy from Buglers Across America. Morgan Murphy sang the national anthem and “God Bless America” was performed by Miss New Jersey Volunteer Natalie Ragazzo during the ceremony.

VFW Post 6650 Commander Mike Morrissey gives heartfelt remarks.

Veterans Fred Distell and George Meyers perform the presentation of the wreath.

Marine veteran Doie Barnes, an Ocean City resident, watches the ceremony.

Miss New Jersey Volunteer Natalie Ragazzo sings “God Bless America.”

Attendees listen to the somber ceremony.