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By Joseph Fontanazza
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) honored those who served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces during the command’s Veterans Day and U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Observance on Nov. 8, 2023.
“Service” and “Sacrifice” were the prevailing themes covered by Program Manager, Ships (PMS): Frigate Program, Program Manager’s Representative for the FFG 62 Land Based Engineering Site (LBES) Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Girouard, who served as keynote speaker.
“Though these themes can mean many different things to many different people, I have learned a few things in reflecting on these values,” Girouard said.
Girouard concentrated on marrying the two interconnected themes in his remarks saying, “Sacrifice, simply put, is what is given up in service. It could be as small as missing a dinner because there is a leaking fuel oil pump that needs to get fixed before an inspection tomorrow, to something far more substantial like a life.”
He added, “No person’s sacrifice is the same. We all have different backgrounds and circumstances. NSWCPD members here have had to travel at a moment’s notice to support a casualty to the fleet.”
Girouard’s personal experiences better contextualized his understanding of sacrifice and even furthered the empathy he had for his colleagues and their families.
“I count myself lucky with what I do now and the time I get to spend with my family. I also look back and realize I was gone over half of my first year of marriage. I have since grown to understand more of what it means to be gone from children and families on deployment and what my peers and fellow Sailors had to deal with,” he said.
The lieutenant commander concluded his speech with an important call to action.
“In this reflection of service and sacrifice, I ask you to think about what this means to you. Do you know someone who has taken off their uniform? Do you know their stories? And more importantly, have you learned from them, understood their service and sacrifice, and looked to embody those traits in your everyday life?” Girouard said.
Among other ceremony highlights were:
• “The Star Spangled Banner” performed by NSWCPD Lead Customer Advocate Pete Eobbi
• Invocation delivered by Valley Forge Military Academy and College Chaplain Floyd White
• A brief history of Veterans Day provided by VERG Co-Chairperson and the ceremony’s emcee Lucas Huerta
• Reading of Howard Schnauber’s “My Name is Old Glory” by VERG Champion Gary Saladino
• Reciting of the traditional U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Message by VERG Co-Chairperson Kristianna Desmarais
• And finally, Girouard and Saladino conducted a wreath-laying ceremony while Tony DeLuca, whose father is a World War II veteran and previously worked on the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard, played the National Song of Remembrance, also known as “Taps”, live on a bugle in memoriam of his father and all other veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have passed
Huerta officially closed out the ceremony by urging the audience members to reach out to a veteran in their family or community, as well as to support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program as NSWCPD had set out collection boxes located near the entrance of each command-affiliated building until Nov. 20, 2023.
NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.