Once again this year, a bumper crop of American flags signals the observance of Memorial Day as Flags for Heroes honors those who served their country, as well as those who currently serve.
The flags will fly this year at two locations — Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View and Blades HVAC in Dagsboro, according to Christine McCoy, who has coordinated the flag displays for several years as a president and now past-president of the Southern Sussex Rotary Club.
Signs accompanying the flags indicate sponsors who have donated funds to the Rotary’s Flags for Heroes project to fund local veterans’ programs, such as Operation SEAs the Day, as well as other programs benefitting veterans, as well as students, McCoy said.
“All of the money is kept right here in the area,” she said.
There will be a flag ceremony at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at Lord Baltimore, to which the public is invited. The ceremony is dedicated to the memory of local Rotary member and World War II fighter pilot the late Ferdinand Comolli, who had retired to Bethany Beach.
“He just loved the flags,” McCoy recalled. “It was his thing.”
The flags were being installed mid-week by members of the Delaware National Guard. There are about 100 flags at each location, McCoy said.
Each sponsor of the flags may choose a “hero” to be honored during Saturday’s ceremony. This year, the names of those being honored will be read by State Treasurer Colleen Davis and state Rep. Ronald Gray. Each of those honored will receive a commemorative medallion.
The Indian River High School Brass Ensemble will provide the musical tribute during the ceremony, while the Indian River High School Junior ROTC will provide the color guard.
“It’s a nice little one-hour ceremony,” McCoy said.
The speaker for this year’s ceremony will be Command Sgt. Major Scott Arterbridge of Townsend. Now retired, Arterbridge served in the National Guard part-time from 1971 to 1983, while working full-time for the Delaware State Police. From 1983 to 2004, he served full-time in the National Guard, until retiring as command sergeant-major/commandant of the 193rd Regiment.
Arterbridge will also be honored by the Delmarva Shorebirds baseball team at Perdue Stadium on Memorial Day, May 27, as he will also throw out the first ball at the game, which starts at 2:05 p.m.
The flags will remain in place for about a week following Memorial Day.
Individual sponsorships for Flags for Heroes will be accepted up to the day of the ceremony, as well as any corporate sponsors who don’t mind not having a sign, since those have already been ordered, McCoy said. Sponsor registration can be completed through the Southern Sussex Rotary’s Facebook page. For more information, call Steve Cropper at (302) 381-6005.
By Kerin Magill