CLAYMONT — A year after its dedication, the Guardians of Defenders Memorial on the grounds of Holy Rosary Parish in Claymont attracted flowers, balloons and a wreath on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The parish usually hosts a large memorial service, but the restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic caused that to be canceled.
The memorial was established by Fathers John Gayton and Donald Van Alstyne, both of whom enjoyed long careers as military chaplains. The priests met while in formation with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Father Gayton, now a diocesan priest, is the pastor of Holy Rosary, while Father Van Alstyne remains in his religious order but is in residence at Holy Rosary.
The memorial includes the primary bronze statue, a battle memorial, plaques on the base, emblems of the armed forces and Sept. 11, 2001, and a bronze plaque of the 21-gun salute pillars. A former Holy Rosary parishioner, Robert Fangman, was among those killed in New York City that morning. Fangman, who graduated from the parish school, was a flight attendant on United Airlines Flight 175, which struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
All photos by Mike Lang.