Friday, July 04, 2014

Crowds turn out along Myrtle Beach-area coastline to celebrate Fourth with military flyover

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH As Lt. Col. Mary Louise Resch of the S.C. State Guard hoisted the American flag at Friday’s Salute from Shore, she couldn’t help but think of the young military couple she met earlier in the day who made it back from deployment to enjoy the Fourth of July festivities on American soil.

“There’s no higher honor than to hold the flag of your country,” Resch said after Friday’s event. “Walking up with the colors from the beach, my heart was just so overwhelmed. It was phenomenal to see that type of support.”

Hundreds gathered at the city’s Main Street beach access Friday afternoon to wave more than 160 flags during the July 4th American Pride March. Many more braved the heat as temperatures reached 90 degrees. Some military members, including Resch, wore their uniforms and were greeted with applause and hand shakes.

Resch said she served during the Vietnam era when receptions for military were not always positive. She was overwhelmed to realize how times have changed.

“I came in the military during a time that I couldn’t wear my military uniform home on leave,” Resch said. “To see the support that young soldiers have and their families, it really is indescribable because these kids know that they can come home and they have the support and that they’re not going to have to be afraid to say ‘Yes, I fought for my country.’”

At a flag raising ceremony before the flyover of vintage military aircraft, a crowd of people gathered to harmonize “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the USA.” As timing would have it, the first three aircraft made their way from Cherry Grove heading south just as “The Star Spangled Banner” concluded.

Every July 4 since 2010, a group of aviators have flown a fleet of planes along the coast from Little River to Hilton Head Island, as flag-waving beachgoers cheer from below along the route.

Volunteers on the beach held the more than 160 flags provided by Jay Mozeley of North Myrtle Beach. Mozeley, who has been providing flags for area military events for years, said recruiting the volunteers makes the event more personal for visitors.

“I met a lady Tuesday from Pennsylvania at the pool at Sunset Harbor and she said we can’t wait to hold a flag on July 4. They came for that reason,” Mozeley said. “That makes America America and this makes July the Fourth the best.”

Mozeley and his crew used to walk the beach with the flags from the Cherry Grove Pier to Main Street, which really built momentum for the celebration as beach goers would stand and salute the flags being walked to Main Street.

Mozeley said there are a lot of area supporters of the annual event, now in its fifth year. The American Legion, Sons of the Legion riders, Rolling Thunder and the Patriots of North Myrtle/Little River are a few that help make America’s birthday celebration on a Grand Strand a great experience for all involved.

“It was hot and the tide was coming in, but it was so great to celebrate America’s birthday,” Mozeley said. “It just makes you happy just to be here and the people appreciate it and that’s why we do it.”

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