Category Archives: Monument Meaning

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

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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.