Surfside Beach community gathers for Memorial Day laying-of-the-wreath service

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 8:01 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Dozens of American flags and several patriotic golf carts filled Memorial Park in Surfside Beach Monday afternoon.

The town came together for a Memorial Day laying-of-the-wreath ceremony.

”Couple good friends that were in Vietnam, and they have 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 serving in the military.

It’s the friends that aren’t here anymore to share stories that he thinks about the most on Memorial Day.

“I came back a different person,” said Tilley. “I do have PTSD. I have been hospitalized for it, but I have a good wife that’s taken care of it - I’ve been married for 59 years.”

While the holiday is dedicated to those who lost their lives in service, it’s folks like Tilley that Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Hellyer finds himself thinking about on Memorial Day.

“Think about what it was like to be in the service with somebody 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,” said Hellyer.

Every year, Surfside Beach provides a space for folks to gather, mourn and embrace those emotions together.

Tilley and his wife, Marty, say they’ve come to every laying of the wreath ceremony in Surfside Beach eight years in a row.

They’ve made it a tradition to make sure they never take for granted those who paid the ultimate price for their country.

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

One referred to a quote from General George Patten, “It’s foolish to mourn the men that died, rather we should thank God for the lives they lived.”

He feels Patton had that wrong, that mourning is an important part of Memorial Day, and he hopes this annual event is a space for folks in Surfside Beach to do that.

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