MOREHEAD CITY — In two Veterans Day ceremonies Thursday, about 50 attendees honored and remembered military veterans.
The Morehead City Historical Preservation Society sponsored the ceremonies in Bayview Cemetery, one to honor American veterans and a second for British sailors buried on the west side of the cemetery. The latter were killed during World War II, defending Carteret County’s coast from German U-boats.
Participants first gathered at the graves of the three British sailors for a day of remembrance service. The group, led by bagpiper the Rev. John Pollock of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, then walked across 20th Street to the veterans memorial on the east side to honor American veterans.
Rodney Kemp, chairperson of the Morehead City Historic Preservation Society, honored veterans, including those whose names are written on the cenotaphs.
Following a moment of silence, he said, “We remember them all as heroes in the struggle to defend the nation and preserve our freedoms with great thankfulness, boundless gratitude and unfettered love and the determination that they shall always be honored for the sacrifices they made and service they gave to God, country and the cause of liberty.”
Bob Guthrie, vice chairperson of the society, echoed that sentiment.
“All veterans are heroes,” he said.
He then read Bible scripture John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Mr. Guthrie placed a laurel wreath at the base of the memorial. Veterans at the ceremony were invited to share what branch of service they served in and others shared the branches of their family members.
At the site of the British graves, a similar scene unfolded.
Mr. Guthrie further said, “We owe a great debt to the British during World War II. They saved us. If it hadn’t been for their stubborn prime minister (Winston Churchill), who was determined to not give into (German Führer Adolf)Hitler, there could have been a very different outcome for all of us.”
Three children, Maggie Graham, Robert Grantham and Bradley Williams, then placed British flags at the soldiers’ graves. Mr. Guthrie also placed a poppy wreath.
The sailors died when their vessel, the San Delfino, an oil tanker, was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat offshore April 9, 1942, according to dates on the sailors’ graves and information from the society. The soldiers are identified as John L. Fisher, sailor, Royal Navy, age 25; Maldwyn Jones, gunner, Royal Artillery, age 22; and unknown sailor, Royal Navy.
The Rev. Sarah Williams of First United Methodist Church in Morehead City gave the invocation and benediction for both ceremonies.
Military veteran Tom Wolf and his wife Goodie were among those who attended the remembrances. Mr. Wolf, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, is a veteran of all four branches of the armed forces.
“I served in the Marine Corps and was wounded during Vietnam,” he said. “I later reenlisted in the Army. Then I enlisted in the Navy Reserves, along with my son. Then I followed my other son and enlisted in the Air Force Reserves. Altogether I served 27.5 years,” he said.
Mr. Wolf added that it was important to honor all veterans.
“We especially need to honor the ones who are no longer with us,” he said.
Mrs. Wolf agreed.
“We try to come to this every year to show our respect for all veterans,” the native of Iceland said. “We should never forget our friends and allies. We had Hitler pay our nation a visit during World War II.”
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, which marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. That conflict formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the armistice with Germany went into effect. It then evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.