PDT Staff Writer
A larger than normal turnout at the Memorial Day ceremony at Greenlawn Ceremony heard Col. William Suver of the U.S. Army single out those who fought in the Second World War.
“These are the men who survived the long war and many hard battles, and in honor of those who didn’t survive, a grateful nation built a memorial in Washington,” Suver said. “It finally opened. We now have a memorial to World War II. Look at these men and think of the ones that are buried here It’s hard to tell that once there were soldiers in a great cause, because after the war they hung up their weapons as monuments, and returned quickly to civilian life, and prospered as free men should.”
Suver quoted Former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Churchill as he once spoke of the American soldier, “The United States is like a gigantic boiler,” Churchill said. “Once the fire is lit under it, there’s no limit to the power it can generate.”
The day began with the KIA-MIA ceremony in Tracy Park where Ken Crawford, Commander of Post 23 of the American Legion set the schedule for the day. Taylor Hardy, a senior at Ohio University set a somber tone for the occasion by the distant playing of Taps.
The honorary Grand Marshal of the annual parade was Earl Jeffers (Sergeant, World War II). Kristi Powell (Scioto County Veterans Service Office) was Honorary Marshal.
One of the happiest participants in the parade was State Representative Terry Johnson (R-90), who was comfortable behind the wheel of a vehicle he had always wanted to drive.
“About 10 years ago I told my wife what I wanted for Christmas,” Johnson said. “A P-51 Mustang was out, so I said, ‘OK, how about a World War II Willys Jeep?’ and she said, ‘maybe.’ She looked into it. Those rascals are rare as hens teeth, very difficult to find in good shape, original parts, and all that. So that never happened. On the other hand, I love those old Jeeps. Those little Jeeps are emblematic of our experience in World War II. And the soldiers that came out of the cornfields, off the farms and out of the cities, could put those things back together and run them all the way across Europe. They were an amazing little vehicle, and they remind me of our country, the veterans that fought in World War II, just to look at that jeep.”
Johnson said one person has been on his mind in recent days, a POW he said most people don’t know about.
“This is a very special time for us to remember, and here we are at the KIA-MIA here in Portsmouth, and most Americans don’t know that we have a prisoner of war in Afghanistan right now,” Johnson said. “His name is Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. He’s from Idaho, and he has been held prisoner by the Taliban or the Kahani network in Pakistan we think since June of 2009. I have introduced a resolution on the floor of the House that we are going to bring attention to this matter.”
Johnson spoke briefly at the ceremony in Greenlawn Cemetery about the members of the military buried there.
“Each person had a family,” Johnson told the crowd. “There is a depth of grief, a hollowness for their sacrifice. What is it to a family when a soldier doesn’t come home? What is it to a community that loses brave sons and daughters? Our sons and daughters from southern Ohio have shed blood on every continent and on every sea, so that not only can we be free, but so the world will know what freedom is.”
Rhonda Madison, one of the organizers of the day’s events was seeing what she had worked on over the last several days.
“My busy days have been since Thursday. I’m the Memorial Day grave-flagging chairperson,” Madison said. “I had students come out on Thursday morning for two hours, and I had 153 volunteers total, Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and I ended up going up Dry Run until 3 (p.m.) o’clock, and we got it done.”
Madison said the group flagged 2,350 soldiers’ graves.
Madison said students were engaged in a poster contest, an essay contest, and had been asked to participate in creating floats for the parade, but none entered that portion of the contest. In the poster contest for ages K-5, the winner was Abby Puckett; second place was Taylor Hickman; third place -Victoria Everhart. The essay contest was for grades 6-8. First prize went to Haley Frye; second place winner was Britney Zimmerman and third place winner was Eric Munion.
Dawn Scott Little was the featured speaker at the Fire Department’s Memorial ceremony.
“You continue with your jobs, knowing that every day brings more danger and traumatic stress upon you,” Little said. “In addition, your families also live with this very real knowledge. You stay in shape. You go to our schools to teach our beloved little ones how to be safe in dangerous situations. You believe in what you do. You know you make a difference, and you keep us safe.”
The day ended with the Sea Service ceremony on the river front.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.