OCEAN CITY – This year’s
Memorial Day was a hot one, but the heat didn’t stop the heavy crowd of local
residents and visitors that gathered for a day of patriotism and remembrance.
Monday, May 31 marked
the sixth annual observance of Memorial Day at the Worcester County Veterans
Memorial in Ocean Pines, and Steven Rakow U.S. Marine Corps (ret) was the
keynote speaker at this year’s annual ceremony.
Some Americans view
Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer. Although Ocean City was
ready for the rush of tourists coming to town for the three-day weekend, the
attendees of the ceremony did not treat this holiday just as a day off and
worrying about if they would have enough hot dogs and hamburgers and what time
the boat races were. It was a day to commemorate the U.S. soldiers who have
died fighting to preserve freedom,
During Memorial Day,
it’s paramount for citizens to remember the sacrifices men and women in uniform
made to fight for freedom, said Rakow.
“A nation reveals itself
not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it
remembers,” Rakow quoted President John F. Kennedy as he spoke at the memorial
Rakow is a graduate of
the U.S. Naval Academy and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine
Corps Reserve. He has 20 years of experience leading Marines as a Marine
Officer and after leaving active duty in 1992 he attended law school and
practiced law in Ohio before joining Rakow Homes, Ltd. He served as vice
president of the Eastern Shore Builders Association and served as a director on
the board for the Maryland State Builders Association for two years. Rakow, his
wife, Kelley, and three daughters reside in Worcester County. Steve and
Kelly also run CrossFit in Ocean City.
Rakow comes from a long
line of military leaders. His father and grandfather both served the country
and even though not pushed into the military life, it was all he knew growing
up. He wanted his chance to serve the country and be apart of something he
could be proud of.
At this year’s memorial,
the late Roseann Bridgman was honored with a bench in her dedication.
Bridgman, who passed in
November, was one of the founding members of the Worcester County Veterans
Memorial Foundation. Though not officially considered a veteran, she was a
consummate military wife and paid tribute to all military spouses on Memorial
Day each year.
At the ceremony on
Monday, Betty McDonough recited Bridgman’s favorite poem, “Military Wife”,
before members of Bridgman’s family unveiled the bench. The poem was
impeccable. The detail the poem painted left you with an image that describes
the sacrifice military wives go through and what Bridgman embarked.
When asked to comment on
Bridgman, Rakow said, “Without Rosann, the memorial would not have got off the
ground. She was a big part of creating a place where people can show their
gratitude to their loved ones.”
The event was full of
patriotic citizens and created a moving and grandiose ceremony. It was a
spectacular event. The flags blowing in the subtle breeze, retired veterans all
around, numerous bikers paying their tribute, firefighters showing their
support, State’s Attorney Joel Todd playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes,
and the assortment of musical performances created an atmosphere where you
couldn’t help but be proud to be an American.
The finale kicked off
with the Rifle Volley and the releasing of a flock of snow-white doves. If you
missed it this year you’ll surely want to plan to be their next Memorial
The Worcester County
Veterans Memorial in Ocean Pines wants the public to know it is your memorial.
You are invited to honor your loved one with a private ceremony at the
Memorial. Any United States veteran from the Revolutionary War to present day
can be honored. Rakow, his father, and grandfather all have brick pavers
“You do not need to be
deceased to have a brick paver at the memorial,” Rakow said.
Bricks can be purchased
to honor any U.S. veterans who have served in war or peace.
Any civic organization
in Worcester County wishing to honor veterans or other military currently
serving in the Armed Forces of the United States by conducting an appropriate
ceremony at the Memorial site is welcome to do so with the approval of the
Foundation Board of Directors.
More information about
the Worcester County Veterans Memorial can be fund my visiting www.OPVETS.com.