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What the Monument Means to Me: Philip W. Gibbs

“The construction of the Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument is not just a project but a symbol of our community’s support for those who have served our country. It honors the sacrifices of countless men and women and will be a visible reminder that freedom is not ‘free.’

“I am dedicating my support to my father, USMC Captain Haywood P. Gibbs, Sr., who served for 25 years. My story mirrors many others. While attending East Carolina University, I entered the Marine Corps Platoon leadership class, which prepared me to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. My career took a detour after I suffered a broken neck in 1980. Upon recovering, I was offered an opportunity to work for my mentor, Ed Hamel.

“Today, many service members are struggling. It’s vital we acknowledge their sacrifices and provide them with something meaningful. This monument will be a special place for people to show their appreciation and support for our veterans and their families.”

Written by Philip W. Gibbs, Marine Corps Veteran and President of Hamel Builders

Want to share what the monument means to you? Click here to tell your story! Want to help us finish the mission? Click here to make a donation to the monument campaign.

What the Monument Means to Me: J. Edward Hamel

“The Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument is important to me and should be for all Americans to honor our Veterans. I am an Army Veteran, 82nd Airborne, and I have two brothers and a son who also served. The Korean War had just ended when I graduated from high school. I joined the Army in 1953 and began my 16 weeks of Basic Training at Fort Dix. In the spring, I transferred to Fort Bragg. It was during Basic Training that I was recruited to go airborne. I’ll never forget the presentation. After explaining the value of going airborne and what it meant to the country, I signed up.

“I turned 90 recently, so I’ve seen Vietnam and Korea, and I even remember World War II. Many family members served. I had an uncle who was 45 when he was drafted into World War II. He had a business, so he had not been drafted previously. He had about a month of training, and then they sent him to France. Within two weeks, he was wounded and back home. Another uncle was in the Navy, and a third was in the Army.

“The Armed Services are essential and important to me. We send young men and women to the most dangerous places in the world. They need to be honored. From the moment I saw the monument design, I knew how significant it would be for the Veterans. I am excited to see it happen in Howard County and proud to support it.”

Written by J. Edward Hamel, Army Veteran and Chairman of Hamel Builders

Want to share what the monument means to you? Click here to tell your story! Want to help us finish the mission? Click here to make a donation to the monument campaign.

VSOs to Host Memorial Day Ceremonies in Howard County

The annual Howard County Veteran Service Organizations Memorial Day Ceremonies will occur on Sunday, May 26 and Monday, May 27.

On Sunday, May 26 at noon, Howard County’s American Legion Post 156 and Marine Corps League Detachment 1084 will conduct a Memorial Day Ceremony at St. John Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland (9120 Frederick Road). The Color Guard will be provided by the Howard County Civil Air Patrol, and the guest speaker will be Cole Schnorf, a Gold Star Family Member, who will be providing comments on the meaning of Memorial Day for a Gold Star Family Member.

On Sunday, May 26 at 2 p.m., Howard County’s VFW Post 7472 will conduct a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Ellicott City VFW Post 7472 Post (4225 VFW Lane). The Color Guard will be provided by VFW Post 7472, and the guest speaker will be Naomi Ling, a graduating River Hill High School senior, National Merit Scholarship winner, award-winning poet, and founder of the RHHS Students Partner with Veterans Club. Naomi will be providing a talk on the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn (and the ultimate sacrifice of the Maryland 400).

On Monday, May 27 at 8 a.m., Howard County’s Marine Corps League Detachment 1084 will take part in the Harriet Tubman Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in Columbia, Maryland (8045 Harriet Tubman Lane). The Color Guard will be provided by the Howard High School Junior ROTC Unit, and the guest speaker will be the County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball. Dr. Ball is the proud son and grandson of U.S. Military Veterans; his efforts have ensured the success of the Millie Bailey Park, the future home of the Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument located near the Columbia Mall, and numerous Veteran and family member initiatives for Howard County.

A wreath laying ceremony will occur during all three ceremonies. All are invited to observe this patriotic ceremony rendering final honors to Our Nation’s Colors.

Howard County Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) include the American Legion Posts 156 and 300, VFW Post 7472, Marine Corps League Detachment 1084, the Civil Air Patrol, The Colonel Dorsey Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Charles Carroll Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Maryland Gold Star Mothers and Maryland Chapter Chesapeake Blue Star Mothers and the Students Partnering with Veterans Club.

For more information on Howard County’s Memorial Day Ceremonies, please contact: Greg Jolissaint, Public Affairs Officer, American Legion Post 156, at

What the Monument Means to Me: Roger Chang

“We helped to keep the Cold War cold at its peak by answering the President of the United States’ Key Intelligence Question in 1973 regarding Soviet multiple (MIRV) nuclear warhead capability on long range missiles. The answer was yes. Forty years later, this mission was officially declassified, and the story could be shared. The answer directly influenced the SALT II negotiations under Secretary of State Kissinger to mutually limit thermonuclear weapons delivery and MIRVs.

Using only long-range missiles across continents, up to 7,500 thermonuclear warheads could be accurately delivered in roughly seventeen minutes. This peak capability was unstoppable and roughly 7,500,000 times as powerful as the first Hiroshima atomic bomb. SALT II mutually reduced that capability.

My wife of four years and my one-year-old son would be impacted by my absence and our separation while I served on a remote Aleutian Island directly under falling Soviet test warheads.

I received a medal signed by the director of the National Security Agency for this effort, but the true reward is being able to enjoy breathing the fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun without suffering from fallout radiation and a nuclear winter blocking sunlight a half century later. Perhaps the sacrifice of my time and my family at the age of twenty-seven helped to keep the Cold War cold.

The monument reminds me of my wife, who succumbed to cancer, and my estranged one-year old son, who probably could not understand my absence because I would return a stranger. They could not be told the importance of such a mission in 1973.”

Written by Roger Chang, U.S. Army Veteran

Want to share what the monument means to you? Click here to tell your story! Want to help us finish the mission? Click here to make a donation to the monument campaign.

What the Monument Means to Me: Penny Flecker, Gold Star Mother

“This monument will be a special gathering place. I can imagine sitting on the benches around the monument with my grandchildren, people talking to each other and connecting. It’s nice for someone to say, ‘tell me about your loved one.’ It’s meaningful for others to know a family, who lost someone, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. This continues to increase the respect and kindness which is already a part of our community.” 

Written by Penny Flecker

In Memory of 1LT Norman T. Flecker (pictured left)
United States Army Aviation

Died June 30, 1998, in a weather-related helicopter crash in the Republic of South Korea

Want to share what the monument means to you? Click here to tell your story! Want to help us finish the mission? Click here to make a donation to the monument campaign.

What the Monument Means to Me: George Delaney

“The Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument is important to me both personally, and in my roles of Vice Commander of the American Legion Post 300 in Columbia and District 4 Adjutant for 16 Posts in the greater Baltimore area. My patriotism and love of country began with my father, George Daniel Delaney who was a Gunner’s Mate Second Class on the USS Teton, Amphibious Command and Control Ship, AGC-14, the lead command vessel at the Battle of Okinawa. He also served during the Philippine Island Campaign.

The photo on the left was taken in the Philippines a short time after Okinawa. My father told me about the battle. Once the invasion began, my dad was assigned to a gun tub and was responsible for repairing or unjamming any of the anti-aircraft guns on the ship. He was at his post 24/7 for 22 days and nights, with only time away to make a head call. His ship endured 122 kamikaze attacks for three weeks. All cooks were assigned to battle stations except one who made bologna and liverwurst sandwiches with one slice of meat, three times a day. No hot food could be prepared.

His ship knocked down several planes and sustained shrapnel rain frequently. They only got a few hours’ sleep on the steel decking in the gun tub in between raids. He said it was a miracle their ship survived. His ship was the second ship to tie up at Tokyo harbor for the signing of the peace on the USS Missouri due to all the too brass on the Teton.

My dad was proud of his service and thankful to Almighty God that he was spared. I am here because he was. He was a great father, and he and my mother lived to see me follow in his footsteps in the Navy and later to be called to serve in NSA. They were proud of me as was I of them.

While my father has passed to his eternal reward, his guidance and heroism inspires me every day to serve Veterans, their families, active military and the Howard County Community. I will enjoy having a special place to reflect upon my father’s sacrifice and defending liberty. He gave me a sense of purpose and wisdom to succeed in life, and to never forget the price paid for liberty. I look forward to bringing my family for some quiet reflection on what my father gave to us and why we should never forget the cost of freedom.

Having such a memorial in Howard County is an amazing vision and will be visited by Veterans and families from throughout the region. I have shared photos of the Monument in my visits to other American Legion Posts in the Baltimore District (4) and hundreds of Veterans were amazed that such a tribute is being planned in our area. Like me, they would love to make a day trip to Columbia to show their children and grandchildren this monument. It will be used to teach the next generation of what Veterans and their families have done to give us this gift called America.

In my Legion capacity, I and other leaders directly serve 300 Veterans and families living in the greater Columbia. area. I call many of them in what we call “Buddy Checks.” I never know what to expect when they answer the phone; they may want to share a recent outing with their grandchildren to the local playground, or they may want to talk about the darkest thoughts of pain and mental duress resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder in combat.

In all these calls, one thing rings clear: Veterans desperately need to be thanked, listened to and consoled when needed. Once we have the monument built, we will encourage some lonely and depressed Veterans to accompany us to visit the monument to finally “Welcome them Home” in a solemn, local place that celebrates and honors their service and that of their families. It will put a face on the meaning of service and patriotism and communicate a powerful message of appreciation for a job well done, sometimes forgotten, but now remembered for all eternity. This will help to reunite these often lonely Veterans with their generations and give a suitable place to tell their story to their loved ones.

The concept, design and completion of the Monument will represent a Vision of Love. It will make Columbia a regional focal point for peace and reconciliation. It will help to erase the mistakes of the past and breathe new life for those who have given so much, both Veterans and Families. Thank you.”

Written by George Delaney, U.S. Navy Veteran

Want to share what the monument means to you? Click here to tell your story! Want to help us finish the mission? Click here to make a donation to the monument campaign.

Edward Hall named grand marshal of Howard County Veterans Day Parade

The Howard County Veterans Foundation with the Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony Planning Committee named Edward A. Hall grand marshal of the 2023 Howard County Veterans Day Parade. Organizers bestow the grand marshal title on an individual who represents the values and morals of the Howard County community of veterans and military families.

Hall retired as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps. His career with the Marines included service as an infantry officer and rifle platoon leader, commanding officer of a naval security group and head of electronic intelligence support and commercial mobile radio service operations for the Fleet Marine Force Atlantic Command.

Outside his military service, Hall is president and founder of TelecomXchange International, a telecom-based test, evaluation and support firm. Previously, he spent seven years at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.

Hall is a lifetime member of the Marine Corps League, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion. He was a commander of the American Legion Post 156 in Ellicott City. He also serves as commander of the Joint Military Council in Howard County, paymaster for a detachment of the Marine Corps League and president emeritus of the Old Post Rifle and Pistol Club.

His service to the veteran community includes helping to establish the Howard County Veterans Day Parade in 2015. The parade, which this year begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, in Columbia’s Merriweather District, will honor all branches of the U.S. military, the National Guard, first responders and their families. As grand marshal, Hall will be recognized at the parade and lakefront ceremony.

To learn more about the Howard County Veterans Day Parade, visit

Donate to Bailey’s Bundles at the 2023 Veterans Day Parade

During this year’s Howard County Veterans Day Parade & Celebration, the Columbia Association and POST 156 are collaborating with Bailey’s Bundles to collect donated items for care packages to be sent overseas to deployed troops. These care packages continue the legacy of Vivian “Millie” Bailey, who served as a first lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War 2 and was a longtime champion of Veterans in the Howard County community.

You’re welcome to donate items from the list below to help fill boxes that will be sent to American service men and women across the globe. Donation drop boxes will be stationed at the Lakefront prior to the celebration.

All donated items should be small, portable and individually wrapped for ease of distribution. Snacks should be in small packages.

  • Kind Bars
  • LaraBars
  • Protein bars, granola bars or nut bars
  • Beef jerky or Slim Jims
  • Pringles (small snack size containers)
  • Trail mix, peanuts, mixed nuts, etc.
  • Cheez-its, cheese or peanut butter crackers
  • Cookies
  • Tuna Lunches to Go
  • Individual Drink mix packets (i.e. – Crystal Light, Mio, Gatorade, Propel)
  • Word puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku