For the first time since 2019, Lower Bucks was able to fully celebrate Memorial Day complete with parades and tributes honoring the fallen.
In Yardley Borough, veterans and local officials retold stories of those who had given their best, but did not come home.
Veteran Marine Brad Varney dedicated the 21-gun salute to the late Air Force Staff Sergeant John Bench. Bench was set to go overseas to Vietnam before being transferred to a post in Greenland. After serving, he rose to the rank of fire chief in Mount Holly.
“When John moved to Bucks County, he worked for the Army Corps of Engineers for many years,” said Varney. “He had an amazing career. As a member of the Honor guard, performed the 21 gun salute that will be in his honor today. He was a true spirit of comradery to all the veterans that he met.”
Varney added Memorial Day is “a day that soldiers live with the consequences of war.” He told the story of a good friend since childhood. The pair enlisted in the Marine Corps together.
“We went,” Varney said, before pausing to collect himself. “We went to Vietnam and he shared something very personal with me. He said, ‘I’m getting a lot better about Vietnam. I only think about it now every 15 minutes.”
Mayor Chris Harding was another speaker Monday morning. Harding organizes the Carry the Load Rally to come through Yardley each year in its mission to bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“I am particularly grateful that we can gather here today once again as a community; A community that has worked together to triumph over great adversity,” said Harding. “And now a community of many who must pause together to honor the best among us: Those who gave their lives defending the liberties and lifestyle we appreciate more than ever.
American Legion Post 317 ended the tribute with a 21 gun salute dedicated to John Bench. A full video broadcast of the ceremony is available on the WBCB News Facebook page.