Memorial Day might be treated as the start of summertime, but it is also a somber time, an observance to remember every American who has died in service to the country.
Many family activities are planned across the Grand Strand: “Military Appreciation Days”; a parade in the city of Myrtle Beach with Rocky Bleier as grand marshal; and various veterans groups have their own ceremonies planned to give thanks for everyone who’s made a difference.
Bill Krzyk of Surfside Beach, a coordinator, marketing and publicity of Honor Flight Grand Strand/Myrtle Beach, geared to World War II-era and terminally ill veterans has asked everyone to take part in the World War II Registry: www.wwiimemorial.com/default.asp?page=registry.asp&subpage=intro.
Thinking about his father who served, Krzyk said since the opening of the National World War II Memorial in 2004, a registry begun in 2010 lets surviving veterans from that global conflict register themselves and allows loved ones to honor family members who have died or never made it back from deployments, “which is the large majority.” He said it takes only about 20 minutes to complete.
“Everyone knows a World War II veteran, one way or another,” Krzyk said.
He also quoted some sobering, significant “fast facts” about what’s known as “The Greatest Generation.” He said nearly 91 percent of the of more than 16 million people who served Old Glory in World War II have died, and that less than 1.5 million remain.
That’s another reason why Honor Flight groups nationwide want to salute these veterans. Krzyk said for the Myrtle Beach flight in August, as of last week, 52 of the 90 seats for veterans are full. They will travel with a medical crew and about 45 more people who accompany and help the guests of honor.
Krzyk said this marks the first time Honor Flight Grand Strand/Myrtle Beach will fly to Washington while school is still out for the summer, and they hope to have some youth to mingle with upon arrival.
“We have two elementary schools who have been great in meeting us in D.C.,” he said, crediting those second- and third-graders and thanking the Myrtle Beach-area groups such as Girl and Boy Scouts who turn out to welcome each flight home.
Bracelets for military families
Also, a Dillon woman, Kim Snyder, said this week she would like Grand Strand hospitals and veterans organizations to know about the “Patriotic Bracelets” program she started about seven years ago.
The daughter of a retired captain whom she said spent 38 years in the U.S. Marine Corps said she takes about two to three minutes putting together each red, white and blue bracelet for any military family she can reach. She estimates she has made “7,000 to 9,000” bracelets, all donated.
She said her father’s recounting of service personnel’s returns home during the Vietnam War – basically getting off the bus and going home – inspired the start of her project, which gained momentum thanks to the Dillon County Veterans Affairs Office.
“My dad is about Memorial Day,” Kim Snyder said. “That was Memorial Day is to me. My dad sacrificed a lot, not only for his country, but for his family. My dad has helped me with all the packages that have gone out.”
For details on obtaining the “Patriotic Bracelets” for relay to military families, call 774-1427, or write to Dillon County Veterans Affairs at 401 W. Main St., Dillon, SC 29536-3365.