Photo credit Ben Silver
Though the Delaware County Veterans Memorial hosts no bodies or burials, it represents something far more meaningful and powerful than a graveyard. Inscribed upon its granite monoliths are the names of countless veterans who perished fighting in America’s wars and conflicts over the centuries. These servicepeople gave their lives during their work with America’s military for a cause larger than themselves.
The Delaware County Veterans Memorial stands proud next to West Chester Pike on a small road dubbed Alice Grim Boulevard just outside Newtown Square. Since its 2013 dedication ceremony, this stone monument dedicated to America’s veterans imposes over the surrounding landscape.
Standing tall next to the primary monument is a statue of World War II veteran Bill Guarnere, immortalized via HBO’s Band of Brothers mini-series. Despite the horrors he went through, which are clearly apparent through his missing left leg from the Battle of the Bulge, he stands tall and proud like his counterpart monument. His statue serves as a symbol of perseverance through the horrors of war, the sacrifice he made for America and his post-war recovery.
At the annual Freedom Medal Dinner, which was hosted by the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association on November 16 this year, you’ll find countless stories just like Guarnere’s. Though most World War II veterans are no longer with us, this event honors the veterans who remain in our presence today.
Seated at a cloth-covered table, you’re likely to sit with men and women who look as unassuming as any other U.S. citizen, but beneath that veneer are stories and tales of the battles they’ve witnessed, their service to their country and the sacrifices they made for America.
As the night goes on and veterans come to the podium to make their speeches, it’s clearly apparent just how meaningful their experiences are to a generation like the one we live in now, a people who may never have experienced armed conflict the way our fathers’ fathers did.
The message of the evening permeates through: “Lest we forget.”
The Freedom Medal Dinner serves to raise funding for the memorial itself, but it also brings together veterans and their families, individuals young and old, to relive experiences uncommon to most, but deeply ingrained in the psyche of our veterans.
While we as a society, nation and species strive for a peaceful world, a nation without war, it’s vital that we don’t disregard the suffering, sacrifices and perseverance of our nation’s soldiers. They are living history, and we shall not forget.
To learn more about and support the Delaware County Veterans Memorial, visit its website.