A 20-year-old Marine Corps private 1st class spent his first day back in the United States with his parents in Wilmington on Monday after a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. But Thompson said the event meant more than just being home. It was a day to remember those who gave their lives for the United States. “They are not forgotten,” he said.
The solemn annual event drew hundreds to the battleship, including the governor, legislators and military officials. The crowd was quiet as the speakers took the stand, with all stressing the importance of honoring the military.
“It is a cause for celebration that they take the risk for our country, and for you and me,” Gov. Bev Perdue said. “We should all go to bed tonight and be exceedingly thankful.”
During the moments of silence between the speakers, the banners flapping in the wind were the loudest sound that could be heard. There were tears in the eyes of some. Children waved their flags in the wind.
Guest speaker Vice Adm. Carol Pottenger said she pays tribute to all of the men and women who have lost their lives during the long history of the United States military. Every battlefield is made sacred by the blood that was shed in war, she said. “This is our day to reflect on the supreme sacrifice of all the men and women that have lost their lives,” she said. And she said she honors the mothers and fathers of the men and women of service. “You have raised another ‘greatest generation,’?” she said.
As the ceremony wound down, the Marine Corps Second Marine Division Band played the song “Eternal Father Strong to Save,” furthering the hush over the crowd.
After, a 21-gun salute was fired into the skies above the battleship, the reverent taps was played by two Marines. The sound echoed above the hull of the ship. Marine Staff Sgt. Jacob Johnson, who played above the cannons on the battleship, said the song is meant to be a memoriam to those who have fallen in battle. “I hope for a day when we won’t have to play the song any longer,” he said.
But the sacrifice made for the United States is something that soldiers will continue to do as long as the duty is called upon them, Thompson said. “Every person is willing to do whatever it takes to offer freedom for others,” he said.
Battleship North Carolina is in need of some major hull repairs. This is in addition to other needs and new programs will be the focus of a major campaign, now in the planning phase with Capital Development Services.Return to Insights & Events