Surfside Beach community gathers for Memorial Day wreath laying service

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Dozens of American flags and several patriotic golf carts filled Memorial Park at Surfside Beach on Monday afternoon.

The city gathered for a Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony.

“A few good friends who were in Vietnam, and they’ve since passed away,” said Vietnam veteran David Tilley. “I really think about them a lot.”

Tilley made countless connections throughout his more than two decades of service in the military.

They are the friends who are no longer there to share stories he thinks about most on Remembrance Day.

“I came back a different person,” Tilley said. “I have PTSD. I was hospitalized for it, but I have a good wife who took care of it – I’ve been married for 59 years.

While the holidays are dedicated to those who have lost their lives in service, it’s people like Tilley that Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Hellyer finds himself thinking about Memorial Day.

“Think about what it was like to be on duty with someone and your buddy gets killed and how you have to deal with that for the rest of your life, so there’s a lot of pain on Memorial Day,” Hellyer said.

Each year, Surfside Beach provides a space where people can gather, mourn, and embrace those emotions together.

Tilley and his wife, Marty, say they have come to every wreath laying ceremony at Surfside Beach eight years in a row.

They have made it a tradition to ensure that they never take for granted those who have paid the ultimate price for their country.

“We just need to take this time to pause, remember, reflect and say thank you in our hearts for what they have done,” Marty Tilley said.

One referenced a quote from General George Patten: “It is foolish to mourn the men who have died, rather we should thank God for the life they lived.

He thinks Patton was wrong, that grieving is an important part of Memorial Day, and he hopes this annual event is a space for the people of Surfside Beach to do so.

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