BY JENAE JACKSON, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, NAVSUP WEAPON SYSTEMS SUPPORT
More than 100 Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Weapon Systems Support (WSS) employees and military service members gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of the nation’s fallen heroes May 16 during the annual Memorial Day Ceremony sponsored by the Philadelphia Compound Veterans Committee (PCVC).
The ceremony garnered the attendance of more than 300 people from various commands aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Philadelphia.
“As we start our summer season in earnest, let us ensure we also pay tribute to more than 1.3 million service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said NAVSUP WSS’s Weapons Support Director, Col. A.J. Manuel, in his opening remarks.
“In nearly every decade since the Revolutionary War, Americans have shed their blood in every clime and place to protect and preserve the freedom that we all hold so dear. Therefore, let us pay tribute to their lives not just today, but every day,” Manuel continued.
Manuel went on to introduce the keynote speaker, Luke Sliwinski, a 14-year-old motivational speaker and staff sergeant of the Liberty Young Marines. Luke has demonstrated remarkable dedication to the Armed Forces and has raised more than $40,000 for the nation’s wounded warriors.
“This Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to take a few moments to walk through the cemetery and visit the graves of our fallen service men and women. I assure you, there is no greater sense of gratitude than when you spend time personally reflecting on the sacrifices that these fallen comrades made for you and me,” said Luke.
Luke then shared an inspiring letter he wrote to 1st Lt. Travis Manion, a fallen Marine from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, whose selfless actions during combat allowed every member of his patrol to survive. Manion’s legacy has been a major influence on Luke and his mission to one day serve his country in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Luke quoted from his letter, “I was only seven years old when I attended your funeral, and I stood at your casket and made you, my hero, a promise that I would never let you be forgotten. You have taught me so much, even in death. Thank you for being a great example of a true American hero.”
Before he left the stage, Luke played a powerful picture slideshow of local ceremonies celebrating the lives of service men and women and their families, which left the audience both moved and humbled.
Additional highlights of the ceremony included the singing of the national anthem by Margo Murphy and Sarah Hodgson, who is the daughter of NAVSUP WSS Deputy Commander of Aviation, Capt. Dan Hodgson. Additionally, attendees watched and listened to the POW/MIA “Missing Man” Ceremony and wreath-laying.
The PCVC, with members from NAVSUP WSS, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and NSA Philadelphia, fosters an environment of respect and support for the sacrifices of veterans and active duty military personnel worldwide through various ceremonies and educational programs.