Wheeling area residents braved the heat and humidity Monday to remember one of their own fallen soldiers and all the military who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
At the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater at Wheeling's Heritage Port, a crowd sang, prayed and held silent in honor and tribute to the true meaning of Memorial Day. That tribute included the presentation of a plaque and Bible to the parents of Army Capt. David VanCamp who was killed in Iraq on June 29, 2011.
VanCamp was a graduate of Wheeling Park High School where he played baseball. A scholarship has been established by a foundation bearing his name.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
Participants salute the flag during a Memorial Day service at the Veterans Amphitheater at Heritage Port in Wheeling.
His parents, Linda and Donald, and several other family members and friends making up the David VanCamp Memorial Foundation, were on hand for the presentations from Dave Schoenian, adjutant of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 709, and Larry Beck, commander Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 442. Also taking part in the ceremony were Ralph Edwards, commander of American Legion Post 89, and Joe Fatigati, commander of American Legion Post 1 of Wheeling, who served as master of ceremonies.
Fatigati also brought news that Post 1 has officially obtained a post home and new members are welcome. John Nanny, commandant of the Marine Corps League, Department of West Virginia, encouraged the public and younger veterans to get involved with some of the military organizations to ensure Memorial Day and Veterans Day services continue in Wheeling.
Beck said, as a child, his father faithfully took him to Memorial Day services and they placed American flags on the graves of soldiers. He said he recalls the Gold Star Mothers walking into the ceremonies and the great silent respect everyone paid to the women whose sons died in service to their country.
Pat Duffy, past exalted ruler of the Wheeling Elks Lodge 28, was the guest speaker. He said few people recognize or embrace the meaning of Memorial Day and thanked those in attendance for remembering our fallen military personnel.
"Too many view Memorial Day as a distraction, a three-day weekend and a shopping day," Duffy said. "There are currently 900,000 veterans backlogged, waiting to get help. We all need to do something for the veterans."
American Legion Post 1 Chaplain Larry Bloomfield led prayers. Jill Robbins, from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 3, read "In Flanders Field." The Warwood Community Choir and its leader D. David Stiles provided the music and singing tributes. Baird Kloss played Taps.
Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge was the only city official to attend.