homepage logo

Suydam encourages community to honor the fallen

By Staff | May 31, 2019

Major Phillip Sundance’s (USAF-Ret.) addressed those gathered at Edge Hill Cemetery in Charles Town on Memorial Day. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN – Major Philip Suydam (USAF-Ret.), commander of the Jefferson High School JROTC, served as the guest speaker during the Memorial Day commemoration at Edge Hill Cemetery in Charles Town. The event, sponsored annually by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3522 and the American Legion Post #71 drew a large crowd to honor the service men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.

Suydam spoke of specific soldiers, including Brent Taylor, a major in the Utah National Guard and mayor of North Ogden, Utah, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Nov. 3, 2018.

Suydam quoted a Facebook post written by the soldier just prior to election day in 2018, which preceded his death.

“‘I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote, and that whether Republican or Democrat wins, that all we remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. United we stand, divided we fall,'” Suydam quoted, mentioning that as the election results came in that day, so did the news of Taylor’s death.

Suydam spoke of Taylor, saying he had chosen to serve, as do all those who are currently in the military.

Cadet Airman First Class Leila Mallamus performs taps during the Memorial Day ceremony at Edge Hill Cemetery on Monday. Toni Milbourne

“There is always a way out for those who don’t want to serve,” Suydam said.

And, he added, military service is not political.

“Red, blue, Democrat or Republican, it matters little what political affiliation one has when they hear the words, ‘We regret to inform you . . .'” Suydam said, mentioning that since the Revolutionary War, there have been approximately one million service men and women killed in the line of duty.

“We must honor all of them, so we can cherish the things that we love: freedom, country and family,” Suydam said. “Brave men and women will always step forward for the sake of freedom.”

According to Suydam, the families of those who have been lost in military service must also be remembered and comforted.

“We need to offer a shoulder to cry on, and the assurance that their sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Suydam said.

Prior to Suydam’s address, wreaths were laid in the cemetery by several organizations, including the American Legion Post 71, VFW Post 3522, VFW Post 3522 Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 71, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 71, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Beeline Chapter DAR, Pack Horse Ford Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sons of the American Revolution Adam Stephen Chapter and the Jefferson High School JROTC.

The Charles Town Middle School Band, under the direction of Rachel Allen, performed two selections during the ceremony, “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Jefferson County Honor Guard provided the Rifle Salute and Jefferson JROTC Cadets Airman MSgt. Julian Patoray and Airman First Class Leila Mallamas played “Taps.”

Assisting at the event handing out programs, water and poppies were members of the K-Kids of Wright Denny Intermediate School and the Builders of Charles Town Middle School.

Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to return to the VFW Post Home on Liberty Street for a complimentary lunch.