Monumental plank this Friday in Miss Delaware candidate’s patriotic platform

GEORGETOWN — This Friday night, Oct. 20 marks a pivotal, patriotic plank in Rebecca Bristow’s Miss Delaware pageant platform.

Sussex Central High School’s stadium is the venue for a National Chair of Honor ceremony dedicating a permanent empty chair in salute of America’s prisoners of war and those missing in action.

“It’s going to be a POW-MIA fixed chair. It will be bolted in, sanctioned off with rope sanctions that are high quality,” said Rebecca, an 18-year-old senior at Sussex Central. “It’s going to have an American flag and a POW flag. It’s going to be there permanently. It has a plaque next to it that states it is for the 91,000 who are unaccounted for or prisoners of war. This is just honoring them and giving them a chair waiting for them to come home …”

The dedication ceremony starts at 6 p.m., prior to Sussex Central’s home football game with Polytech. It’s also Golden Knight Senior Night.

“There are going to be many, many veterans coming. A lot of them are riding on their motorcycles. We have the Delaware Patriot Guard, Hogs & Heroes, the Legion Riders … a lot of people are coming and bringing their bikes and showing support,” said Rebecca.

Rebecca said she has helmet stickers several senior players have pledged to wear. And there will be a huge American flag. The project is at no cost to the school or the Indian River School District.

A resident of Bridgeville, Rebecca has hopes, dreams and aspirations of becoming Miss Delaware 2018 next June.

Her pageant platform is: Serving Those Who Have Served.

“It’s a program dedicated to serving our veterans. This has been my platform for the past year and a half. But I’ve been involved, serving our military and giving back since I was very little,” Rebecca said. “This project started when I got involved with the “A Hero’s Welcome Delaware.” I became part of their organization. They loved the work I was doing. They thought I was a great leader and they made me the Delaware High School ambassador for our state for the POW-MIA Chair of Honor.”

“This will be the first one in our state ever or a high school. It will be the first high school POW-MIA chair. I am hoping to spread this throughout the state. I am the ambassador so I want to get one in every single high school. That’s my goal,” said Rebecca.

Her project, which garnered Indian River School District board of education approval in late September, will feature a portable chair in the high school for special events.

“The portable chair is going to be in our front lobby for all to see when they are coming in. But for sporting events, particularly our wrestling team is very popular – we were state champions last year –  a lot of people come out and we do our National Anthem. That’s something very important to us. We’re going to bring the POW-MIA Chair out for those events to recognize those soldiers,” said Rebecca.

Sussex Central High School senior Rebecca Bristow

Rebecca is the daughter of Rita and Lester Bristow whom she describes as “two lovely parents.”

“I have a dog that weighs more than me. We got him the day David Bowie died and David Bowie is my favorite musician ever. So, we named our Great Dane – Bowie. Now he weighs more than me. When he is standing on his back legs he’s about 5-9, 5-10. It’s slobber everywhere!”

In this week’s People to Meet spotlight: Rebecca Bristow.

Why Sussex Central as school of choice?

‘I am very big into performing arts and we have a very good performing arts program here. I love singing and acting. I’ve always been a musical beater person. I went to the Southern Delaware School of the Arts as a child. That’s kind of my passion.”

College plans?

“I am looking at University of Delaware. I want to do an undergraduate of biology. I want to go onto to med school. I want to become a plastic surgeon and do reconstructive work, actually with our veterans who have been wounded in war; like facial surgery, things like that. And also cancer patients, like breast cancer patients … help them reconstruct their bodies.”

“I want to be Miss Delaware this year. So, living in my home state and going to college would make it really accessible for me being Miss Delaware.”

Previous pageant competition?

“I competed for the Teen title last year. I was third or fourth runner-up.”

What’s your pageant talent?

“I sing. Last year I did “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from Grease. I dressed up as Sandy, it was so much fun. This year I am going to do a patriotic piece. I am looking at gowns right now. I am getting an American flag gown. It is going to be gorgeous, rhinestone … beautiful. I am going to do a patriotic tribute. I was thinking about doing American Soldier from Toby Keith, but I am not sure. And I play piano, too, so …”

Your passion for veterans?

“When I was in the second grade they asked all the kids: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up? Draw a picture.’ A lot of girls drew like fairies or princesses … while I drew a woman with a gun. They were like,’ Oh my God, what is this?”

“Well, I want to be in the Army. I really wanted to get into our service but because of some health conditions I have I am not able to enlist in any branch. So, it’s my way of serving our military. I feel that speaking up for our veterans, serving our homeless shelters, our wounded warriors, people who really need that outreach is my way of serving.”

Any family military connections?

“My parents were not in the military. My grandfather was in the Navy. My uncle Joe (Kash), who is my hero, he passed away two years ago. He was a Vietnam veteran and he was a medic. He was trained to kill and do everything he needed to, but even though the war conditions were so bad he refused to carry a gun because his service was to be a medic. He was just so inspirational and that’s what I wanted to do.”

You have connected with Patrick J. Hughes, photographer at Rolling Thunder?

“He is one of the leaders of the organization. He is an amazing man. I got connected to him through A Hero’s Welcome. He was telling me about his voyage to Tarawa and they discovered the bodies of some of our U.S. soldiers. And he actually is this week (Oct. 9-13) burying them in Arlington. He connected them with their family. He is making it to our dedication.”

Closing thoughts?

“I feel like a lot of kids are unaware of what POW-MIA means. A lot of kids are like ‘What does POW-MIA mean?” It’s prisoners of war/missing in action. We’re not taught that is schools. This is my where kids are going to see these chairs, and young impressionable children are going to say, ‘Mom, what does that mean?’ or “Dad, what does that man.’ Then they know and then they can tell their children and their children’s children. So, no soldier is ever forgotten; no life is forgotten. That is the big part of my campaign.”

“I’m very for educating people on how to help our veterans, especially our homeless veterans. I feel like they are overlooked a lot. And our POW-MIA support, that is part of my biggest focus for Miss Delaware.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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