Community invited to give ‘Heroes’ Welcome’ to veterans

Date Published: 
September 9, 2016

Operation SEAs the Day’s Warrior Week 2016 is well under way, but there is still time for community members to get involved.

Operation SEAs the Day is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to organize and facilitate a beach week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. It is our hope that such a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”

This year’s Warrior Beach Week began Sept. 6 and will conclude Sept. 11, giving 25 wounded veterans and their families the opportunity to enjoy a beach vacation.

On Friday, Sept. 9, a large-scale “Heroes’ Welcome Home” motorcade will travel from the Sea Colony Marketplace to the Freeman Stage at Bayside, where the families will attend the Bruce in the USA concert at the Freeman Stage that evening, which begins at 7 p.m. (Community members are invited to watch the performance as well. Tickets to the show cost $25 per person, and patrons are being asked to bring their own chairs or blankets, as seating is not provided.)

The motorcade is scheduled to leave Sea Colony at 4:45 p.m. and arrive at the Freeman Stage between 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. The warriors and their families will travel on school buses, accompanied by law enforcement and volunteer fire companies during their drive to the stage. More than 100 Jeeps will line the median between South Bethany and Fenwick Island, along Route 1.

“These wounded veterans are recovering from injuries sustained while serving our country. Many of them went from the battlefield to a hospital and then home,” said Annette Reeping, who serves on the non-profit’s board. “Many have not received a thank-you or recognition for their sacrifice. It is our turn to show our appreciation.”

“It a true opportunity to experience pride in country and be part of a town pride and patriotism — a true American experience, thanking those brave veterans who have sacrificed everything for our peaceful way of life!” she added. “And it is a veteran family being recognized who will for the rest of their lives endure difficulty.”

Reeping said that while participation in the motorcade itself is limited to vehicles that have already been approved, organizers hope to gather as many community members and visitors to line the streets along the route to welcome the veterans and their families.

“The participation is by lining the streets waving an American flag and wearing red, white and blue,” she said. “Families, entire neighborhoods [are] already planning to line the 5-mile route. Restaurants on Route 54 are having half-price meals to fill their restaurants during the motorcade. They will give the patrons flags and then have everyone go out to the street as the motorcade goes by. It’s going to be a fantastic hometown hero welcome and thank-you!”

Turning into the Bayside entrance, the motorcade will travel under an extremely large American flag hung from two ladder trucks of local fire departments. The streets of the community will be lined with handmade posters welcoming the heroes and their families to the beach, with even more people decked out in red, white and blue, waving flags and cheering.

“[It’s] a show of American pride and patriotism.”

To learn more about Operation SEAs the Day, visit Operationseastheday.org. To purchase tickets to the Bruce in the USA concert, visit www.freemanstage.org/event/bruce-in-the-usa.