A Prayer of Thanks
Submitted by MCB Quantico
Story by SSgt F.B. Zimmerman
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.(June 1, 2001) — More than 1,000 men, women, and children gathered under warm, sunny skies at Quantico National Cemetery Monday to pay homage to the men and women who have given their lives for their country.
MGen. Clifford L. Stanley, Commanding General, MCB Quantico, represented the base. Medal of Honor recipient and retired Marine Col. H.C. “Barney” Barnum Jr., President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, was the guest of honor.
The hour-and-a-half Memorial Day program began with a 30-minute concert by the Quantico Marine Band. The Quantico Color Guard then marched on the colors, along with veterans parading colors and various flags. The ceremony stopped briefly when a bus carrying veterans from a local Veteran’s Administration hospital pulled up to the curb. The bus had been stuck in traffic and the former service members were late arriving to the cemetery.
Wayne Dearie, chairman of the Potomac Regional Veterans Council, announced they would stop the ceremony until the distinguished guests took their seats. The entire crowd then rose and gave the veterans a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
Barnum, who was the fourth Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam, received one of the biggest cheers of the day when he announced that he was present at the White House when President George W. Bush signed the legislation that would allow the World War II memorial to be built on the Mall.
Some feel that Americans have lost or forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day, but during his speech, Barnum challenged those present to do the opposite.
“Let’s put the Memorial back in Memorial Day,” said the 27-year veteran.
Not everyone is losing sight of what the holiday is about.
“I thought it was great what the speaker said and it’s how everyone here feels,” said Bob Begley, a retired Navy commander. “After 21 years in the service, I’m surprised to see how people don’t understand this. [Barnum] is right, we need to put the Memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Begley, from Willow Grove, Penn., comes from a tradition-rich Navy family. His grandfather, Charles Begley Jr., was a chief yeoman who served in World War I and his father, Grant Begley Sr., was a hospital corpsman who served in WWII and Korea.
Near the end of the ceremony a wreath was laid at the ceremony site and Quantico’s ceremonial platoon fired a 21-gun salute, followed by a somber echoing of Taps.
The ceremony then ended with the retiring of the Colors.
It wasn’t just adults who felt it was important to remember America’s veterans Monday.
“These people buried here, we need to celebrate them and what they did,” said 10-year-old Triangle resident Andrew Brown. “These people are just as important as the people who are alive.”