Monday morning was rainy and bleak, but that did not dampen the spirits of several hundred Hanover County residents who filled the Board of Supervisors meeting room for the County’s annual Memorial Day observance.
A standing room only audience applauded at remarks from Navy and Army veteran Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Brashear, whose father Carl Brashear was a Master Diver for the U.S. Navy and whose own story was so inspirational that it served as the basis for the major motion picture “Men of Honor” starring Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding Jr.
“I urge you to honor those who have given their lives for this great country to be the best citizens you can be,” Brashear said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.”
Brashear, who retired in July 2022 after 40 years of service in the Navy Reserve, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, related a personal story from his service in Iraq. A U.S. Marines truck had rolled over in a flash flood with eight Marines and one Navy corpsman on board. Brashear, a Navy pilot at the time, was among the team that worked for hours to reclaim the bodies in hazardous conditions. He told of his prayers and tears, then read their names to the audience.
Speaking to others in the room who have lost loved ones in service to their country, Brashear urged them to “always call out their names and remember them in your hearts.”
93-year-old Alfred Salazar, a Korean War veteran (Air Force) laid the memorial wreath escorted by Fred Burns of American Legion Post 175 and Thomas Bynum of Veterans of Foreign Wars 9808. Salazar was one of the founding members of the Hanover Veterans Memorial Committee which planned the Veterans Memorial at Hanover Wayside Park.
The emcee was George Navas, Chairman of the Hanover Veterans Memorial Committee. Navas reflected on the meaning of the words “From whom does the bell toll...it tolls for thee.”
“We are all part of the human race and the suffering and passing of another human being should affect us, not least because it is a regular reminder that one day, it will be us for whom the funeral bell is tolling,” Navas said. He noted that from the American Revolution to the Global War on Terrorism, more than one million American veterans have made the supreme sacrifice. Brashear updated that to the latest estimate of 1.3 million Americans who have died in military service.
Since 2007, Hanover County has been holding observances each Memorial Day and Veterans Day at the Veterans Memorial in Wayside Park. Planned by the Veterans Memorial Committee, the observances are coordinated by Hanover Parks and Recreation. Director Aaron Reidmiller announced the placement of nine new brick pavers at the Veterans Memorial honoring Hanover military veterans.
A $100 donation buys a brick paver on the walkway leading up to the brick and granite memorial. The brick pavers can be inscribed with the name of any U.S. military veteran serving in active duty or who has been granted an honorable discharge.
For more information about the Hanover Veterans Memorial, contact the Department of Parks & Recreation at 804-365-7150.
View the full ceremony here.