If there’s one thing that Ocean Pines has done and continues to do right — not to suggest that it doesn’t stand out in many other regards, aside from its frequent political controversies — it’s the Worcester County Veteran’s Memorial.
The memorial is one of this country’s finest examples of a volunteer enterprise built from the ground up into something its original organizers might not have foreseen.
After its small but nevertheless noteworthy beginning, it is now recognized by thousands as a powerful symbol of service, commitment and sacrifice by men and women who stepped up to do their duty on behalf of their country.
The ideals of service and commitment to a noble cause, however, aren’t just the province of military veterans and those currently serving. These traits are also exhibited by people such as Marie Gilmore, who has helped lead the memorial to fulfill its mission.
It is fitting then that Gilmore was honored last week with the community’s Sam Wilkinson Award for volunteerism, presented each year by the Parks and Recreation Department in recognition of an individual’s contributions to Ocean Pines.
Gilmore, as Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue said, has served as the foundation president for nine years, and was instrumental in seeing it become a “wonderful tribute and celebration to all veterans in our community.”
The capstone of her efforts on behalf of the memorial, perhaps, was the appearance in April of “The Wall That Heals” exhibit, a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a mobile Education Center.
The exhibit’s stop in Ocean Pines during its national tour was the result of a three-year effort by a group of volunteers with Gilmore in the lead. She also helped establish an education program for the county’s fifth graders.
Upon receipt of this year’s honors, Gilmore said she was humbled by it, when the fact is the rest ought to be humbled by her committment to make the Ocean Pines a better community.