War II Dedication Speech
World War II Dedication Speech was
written and presented by Mr. Kevin Cooley
allied victory in World War II literally prevented the world from being
plunged into a brutal totalitarian dark-age typified by fascist Nazi
Germany and Imperial Japan. While this outcome is without question awesome
and just, it is sometimes not linked closely enough in our minds to
the costs of such a victory.
than 400,000 citizens of the United States died while fighting in this
war. Today, 60 years after the end of this brutal and tragic war, we
are gathered to remember eight of those citizens. Let me first place
this number eight into a better perspective for you this morning. There
are likely 8 times the number of people living in this area today as
there were living here in 1940.
means that if this community lost as many people in a war today as were
lost in World War II, we would have a plaque with 60 names on it. As
you can appreciate, 8 men lost from a community the size of Severna
Park in the early 1940’s was a huge event.
who were these 8 men? Let me try to tell you a little about them. The
passing of 60 years and a portion of a generation has caused the details
of some of them to be known only to history. However, the stories of
others are more clear.
Bonnett was an Aberdeen boy transplanted to a house on Cypress Creek
Road in Severna Park when he married Anne Dill in 1938. Warren took
the train to his job in Baltimore from the station that is a part of
this park. Warren served as a Captain in the Army’s 1st Infantry
Division, the Big Red One, and was killed in action in near Oran, North
Africa in 1942. He was 28 years old and left a wife and a 4 year old
daughter, Sue. Captain Bonnett’s grandson Warren will tell you
more about him later in our program.
Jones also from Severna Park was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the
United States Army in 1942. He was stationed in England and died there
that year. Sadly, after more than 60 years the details of the circumstances
surrounding his death now are a mystery. This is also the case with
Nathan Pollard who also served in the Army.
Brockmeyer grew up in Severna Park, in a store located not 100 yards
from this spot on the caddy corner to Dawson’s. Edward served
as a Marine rifleman during the invasion of Saipan in 1944 were he assaulted
a Japanese pill box fortification, killing the seven occupants after
they refused to surrender. Edward had to pour gasoline into the pill
box and kill them in turn as burning, they were forced out. Horrible,
yes, but that was the reality of the war in the Pacific.
recovered from his wounds and with the full knowledge of what awaited
him, he sailed with the 4th Marine Division for Iwo Jima. Overcoming
what I can only believe was the kind of fear that only a veteran of
combat can really comprehend, he volunteered for hazardous duty supporting
the underwater demolition teams surveying the beaches at Iwo just prior
to the landings.
was a part of a 12 boat mission, conducted in broad daylight less than
1,000 yards offshore. The men in these boats were literally sitting
ducks for the Japanese heavy machine guns and artillery on Mount Suribachi.
The boats were intended to both provide a diversion to protect the Navy
UDT men as they surveyed the beaches and goad the Japanese into revealing
the positions of any guns that had survived the preceding heavy bombardments.
12 boats were absolutely savaged. In little more than an hour all of
the boats were either badly damaged or sunk. Edward was killed by an
artillery round while aboard LCI-449, one of the 12 boats. He was awarded
the Silver Star posthumously for valor prior to being killed. His citation
is on display here today. Incidentally, the first Medal of Honor of
the battle for Iwo Jima was awarded to LCI-449’s skipper, Lt.
Rufus Herring. Of the more than 100 Navy UDT swimmers in the water than
morning, only 1 was lost. Edward was 22 years old when he was killed.
His memorial service was conducted in the church across the street from
is not the only Brockmeyer on the memorial. His younger brother Robert
was serving as a ship fitter on a ship in the invasion fleet off of
Sicily in 1943. Robert was killed manning his deck side battle station
during an attack by a German dive bomber on August 1st, 1943. A letter
from an officer on his ship is on display here today attests to his
attention to his duty. He was 20 years old.
Robert was in peril offshore, Louis Pohlner was fighting with the United
States Army ashore on Sicily. He was killed there in the summer of 1943.
and Robert Brockmeyer were not the only brothers from Severna Park involved
in the war. Harry and Francis Millhausen grew up in Whitney’s
Landing in Severna Park. Their parents owned Millhausen’s Tavern
at the intersection of Benfield and Jumper’s Hole Roads. The picture
of Francis on display was taken near this tavern.
older brother Harry Millhausen went first and served with the Marines
in the Pacific. He lost an arm during the assault on the island of Roi-Namur
in 1944. Francis, or Fritz as he was known, ran track at Annapolis High
School, graduated in 1944 and enlisted in the Marines after his older
brother returned home. Fritz died in China on occupation duty in 1946.
He was 19.
you heard earlier, Robert Maxwell was a B-17 pilot in the Army Air Corps.
A review of the old Tap-Loid, the home town paper produced in Streett’s
Tavern, reveals that as of February, 1945 he was serving in Italy and
was alive. He did not survive the war.
are we today to make of such sacrifice? These men through their loyalty
and commitment literally gave all of their tomorrows for our today.
For the most part they died without ever experiencing the joy of marriage
and of holding their own children. Of watching them grow to adulthood.
Through their sacrifice they converted at least two of Roosevelt’s
Four Freedoms (freedom from fear and freedom of worship) from a hopeful
abstraction to a guaranteed reality.
might they expect of us? Would they expect us become permanently saddened,
unable to experience the joys of life that they denied themselves? I
do not think so. Rather, I believe that they would want us to deeply
and truly experience joy. I think that they would wish that we do so
while leading lives and making choices worthy of their sacrifice. I
would propose that we have an obligation to act in ways consistent with
the ideals for which they fought and died.
suggest that we have an obligation to find a balance between our own
self-interest and the common interests of our neighbors and community
as a whole. That we have an obligation to find way to compromise for
the common good when warranted. And an obligation to stand firm when
to compromise would result in a surrender of hard won freedoms. Can
we, and equally importantly can our children, recognize the difference
between these two situations?
I believe that the self-sacrifice of these eight men engenders another
obligation; to each other and to our country in a larger sense. We have
an obligation to learn about and to remember our past; even when it
is painful to do so. To take time to ensure that understanding of our
history and the legacy that it establishes for us is well understood
and does not fade. Obligations. Obligations to cherish the joys that
they sacrificed for us, to teach our children well and to make a small
part of each day Memorial Day through both our words and our deeds.
to World War II Dedication