By Peg DeGrassa, Delco News Network
Standing before an audience of almost 700 attendees, legendary performer and Vietnam veteran Bobby Rydell, choked-up and emotional, proclaimed, “We are united, the United States of America. If you don’t respect our flag and love what it stands for, leave this country. Get out!”
His words, referring to recent post-election protesting activities, received a thunderous round of applause at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association 2016 Freedom Medal Award Dinner at the Springfield Country Club. In a climate of absolute patriotism and ultimate reverence and respect for veterans of all branches of service in attendance, the third annual Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association (DCVMA) gala awarded Freedom Medals to six veterans, as well as bestowing Freedom Medal awards to several in the community who have made a notable impact in furthering the mission of the Veterans Memorial. The event, emceed by Rydell and Fox 29’s Sue Serio, bound together people of all backgrounds by their common love of country and gratitude to our veterans. DCVMA president and Army veteran Guy Fizzano and Delaware County Councilman Mario Civera assisted in presenting the Freedom Medals to distinguished veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle Eastern wars.
Following a cocktail hour where guests mingled, posed for photos with a George Washington and Revolutionary War soldier, the event opened with the Posting of the Colors and Pledge of Allegiance led by Marine Corps Bridge Company B, 6th ESB 4th MLG and MCL Gen. Smedley D. Butler Detatchment 741 of Newtown Square, accompanied by the Valley Forge Military Academy Regimental Band.
As the band and honor guards paraded through the center of the room to present the colors and officially open the event, they were followed by this year’s Freedom Medal honorees, as well as the honorees of the past two years. Hundreds of spectators, seated at their tables, rose to their feet. DCVMA co-vice president Joseph Daly summed up the essence of the event: “We are blessed to live in a country where the God-given right of freedom is bestowed upon every American citizen. However, maintaining this most basic of rights has not come without sacrifice. Since 1776, millions of Americans have served in the armed forces and thousands have sacrificed their lives to preserve our right of freedom from those who would subjugate freedom for the ideology of the state. The Delaware County Veterans Memorial is dedicated to honoring all veterans, particularly those from Delaware County who, without hesitation, gave their life to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy. It is my belief that it is the moral obligation of every veteran and citizen to honor our fallen to ensure that their sacrifice is not forgotten.”