During a day filled with pageantry, symbolism, and heartfelt gratitude, thousands of veterans, active duty personnel, reservists, National Guard members and the civilian community gathered in the Town of Whitehall to honor and celebrate those who serve in our nation’s military.
The annual Vet Fest has become the capstone gathering for Delaware-based 22in22, an initiative to support the mission ending the epidemic of military-related suicide.
The September 29th event in the Middletown-area community featured a rousing recognition of WWII veterans who were chauffeured in the group’s parade by local Jeep enthusiasts. The veterans enjoyed military escorts provided by students from the First State Military Academy (FSMA). The parade also included color guards from the Delaware Military Academy and FSMA as well as the DMA marching band and flag corps.
Volunteers from both the veteran community, active duty community and civilian ranks worked feverishly all year to provide this day, jam-packed with activities. Young Marines were seen carrying flags and chanting in the 5K, area high school students from St. George’s Vo Tech lined the rigorous “Ruck” along the C & D Canal, and veteran and community support organizations lined the street with tables full of information ranging from veterans assistance to suicide prevention, to military-related social organizations.
Higher education was represented, as members of Wilmington University, Delaware Technical & Community College and the University of Delaware all volunteered and participated.
The second part of the day included a music festival and social gathering of the community. The 22in22 group presented their annual award to USO leader Yolanda Bottorf. She was recognized for her care and grace during her work with the dignified transfer of fallen soldiers and her USO work to boost the morale of tens of thousands of troops.
Funds for the event were raised to benefit the local military community and non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide.
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