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Carderock employees honor fallen service members during Memorial Day ceremony

By Dustin Q. Diaz, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs | June 2, 2016

WEST BETHESDA, Md. —

WEST BETHESDA, Md. – The employees of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division honored fallen American service members with a wreath-laying ceremony May 31.

NSWCCD Commanding Officer Capt. Richard Blank began the event by talking about Memorial Day’s origins as Decoration Day and how the holiday became what it is today. He then introduced retired U.S. Navy Chief Information Systems Technician Kevin Mook, Veterans Employment Readiness Group (VERG) chairman, who organized the ceremony.

“Yesterday, across this great nation, our citizens and veterans gathered to pay homage to America’s finest men and women who gave their lives in defense of freedom,” said Mook, who served in the Navy from 1982-2003. “Today, we want to honor those same men and women who selflessly gave of themselves to protect the freedoms we enjoy in this country of ours.”

Operations Specialist 1st Class Nathan Holdorf and Yeoman 3rd Class Max Rosenkrantz, clad in service-dress white uniforms, rang a ship’s bell while Mook explained the significance of the bell throughout naval history.

“Certainly, this is the most appropriate time to honor our departed,” Mook said. “The toll of the ship’s bell reminds us of the reverence we owe our departed. To those who guard the honor of our country upon the sea, in the air, on the ground and on foreign soil, let us be a reminder of the faith they confide in us.”

Mook called for a moment of silence to honor the dead. He then introduced the event’s guest speaker, Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) April D. Beldo. Beldo, the first woman to hold that billet, talked about visiting Arlington National Cemetery and witnessing the Changing of the Guard with her brother, a Navy veteran, on Memorial Day. Beldo talked about the pride she has felt in wearing the nation’s cloth for 33 years, but also the obligation she feels it brings for her and other service members and veterans to tell others about the sacrifice of these fallen Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines.

“Not everybody is educated on what it means to pay the ultimate sacrifice,” Beldo said. “It is our responsibility as veterans, as members of the armed services and those who have family members serving, to continue to educate others about why we do what we do every day. Only 1 percent of the young men and women between the ages of 17 and 25 even meet the criteria to join our armed forces. What about the other 99 percent? They just don’t know.

“I do believe in my heart that we would not be enjoying the freedoms that we do every day if it was not for those young men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We have some work to do and we do not want our Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen work to go in vain, or their suffering to go in vain. So I’d ask you to join me in making that commitment.”

Blank and Beldo laid a wreath at the flagpole and Boy Scouts Eric and Sean Grapin, the sons of Carderock employee Mark Grapin, played taps to close the ceremony. The VERG served cake and refreshments at a program after the ceremony with Beldo also speaking at that event.