Memorial Day commemoration held at Seaford High auditorium

By Lynn R. Parks

Jennings Spicer of Seaford was a member of the Armys 66th Infantry Division, which served in France during World War IIs Battle of the Bulge. The division was charged with cleaning out pockets of German soldiers following the Germans retreat from northern France.

We got one hot meal every other day, Spicer said during the keynote speech at Mondays Memorial Day commemoration, held in the Seaford High School auditorium. His crew of four was charged with manning an outpost. Two men would be in the outpost, and two would be asleep, he said.

One day, he and his fellow lookout heard strange noises. They didnt know who, or what, was making the sounds, and eventually, Jennings announced that he was going to take a look. His investigation led to a small rodent, exploring near the outpost.

He was very relieved that that was all it was. That was the most beautiful mouse Ive ever seen in my life, Spicer said.

He also remembers walking back to his quarters following dinner, and spying a pronged piece of metal sticking out of the ground. The Germans had planted a mine along the path, he said. The men, on their way to dinner, had just missed stepping on it.

Following the war in Europe, Spicer served in Germany, as part of the army of occupation, in Marseilles, France, and in Salzburg, Austria. There, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity to learn to ski. He rode the ski lift to its top, took one look at the mountain below him and decided on another winter sport. I wrote home and asked my mother to please send me my ice skates, he said.

While stationed in Linz, Austria, he and the other men in his unit heard rumors that a former German officer was living in town. A few days later, they came upon the suspect and detained him. Spicer told the man to take his shirt and undershirt off, and to lift his arms above his head. The Americans were then able to see on the underside of his arm the mans tattoo from Hitlers notorious Schutzstaffel (SS). We took him in, Spicer said.

Spicer, a recipient of the Combat Infantryman Badge, was not the only of his family to serve during World War II. His brother Shelley was in the Navy. Arnold Spicer was in the Delaware Army Guard and Army Reserves for a total of 37 years, starting in 1948, and Maynard Spicer served with the Army during the Korean War.

All four brothers attended Mondays ceremony, where Shelly read aloud the names of the Seaford-area men who were killed during World War II.

Master of ceremonies was Pete Bohn, a Seaford police officer and retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He thanked the Spicer brothers for their service, and reminded those in the audience that Memorial Day is not just a time for trips to the beach and barbecues. This is the day that we honor all the American servicemen and women who gave their lives for our country, he said. This is a time of quiet prayer and reflection, and a time of remembrance for our entire nation.

State Sen. Bryant Richardson said that the nation needs to honor God and respect life. Americans should also honor the families of those who have died in service to our country.

State Rep. Daniel Short read two presidential quotes that he had recently seen in a newspaper article. One, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, appeared in a letter to a Boston woman who had lost several sons in the Civil War. Lincoln, whose own young son, Willie, had died of typhoid fever not quite two years earlier, wrote: I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

The second was from a speech that President Ronald Reagan gave on Memorial Day 1982, at Arlington National Cemetery: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we in a less final, less heroic way be willing to give of ourselves.

Seaford Mayor David Genshaw said that Seaford is blessed with a lot of people who step up to serve our nation all around the world. He paid tribute families that have had members killed in war, for whom every day is Memorial Day. And he had some advice for those in the audience.

We should live every day to its fullest, and teach our children about the history of our nation and the freedoms that we have here, he said.

And we should never ever forget where those freedoms came from.

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