GRATIS — Many Preble County communities came together this past weekend to celebrate Memorial Day. The Village of Gratis honored the holiday by hosting a parade followed by a ceremony at Fairview Cemetery on Sunday, May 26.
The event was organized by The Gratis Eagles Auxiliary, Odd Fellows of Gratis, Gratis Fire Department, and Gratis Police Department.
Pastor Gary Agee, with Beechwood Church of God, gave the invocation and benediction. Preble Shawnee High School Band performed several musical presentations.
The main speaker at the event was Staff Sergeant Kathrynn Theopolis, who has been in the National Guard for almost six years. She currently works full time for the 178th medical group and the 162nd attack squadron in Springfield.
“Almost 75 years ago, on June 6, 1944, we lost over 4,000 allied troops on the shores of Normandy. That day has been immortalized as D-Day. Across our nation, communities will be joined together in a common goal: they will lay wreaths and visit graves of our fallen soldiers,” she said.
“These tributes of flowers and flags to honor and remember the sacrifices. No words or actions can ever settle the debt of gratitude we, as a nation, have for those who gave their lives for our country. That concept, that young men and women stepped forward with conscious purpose to serve with full awareness of potential costs.
“Today is about remembering those service members and their sacrifice. It is about taking a moment to honor those who have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms and ideas we, as Americans, hold so dear to our hearts. Today is about legacy. It talks to the history of those who have worn the uniform in defense of our country since its inception.
“It is about the fallen, who indeed might be forgotten as time goes on, but who’s service lives on with every day of freedom. It is about inspiration to all those who serve today and tomorrow. It is about those who will come after us, committing to protect in a yet unrealized arena. It is about individuals who made an imprint in our thoughts forever.
“Lastly, today is about honoring the families they have left behind. The sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands, wives, and friends. Let us not forget the ones who once served beside them. The brothers and sisters in arms who also live every day with heavy hearts. The ones who still yearn for the company of the ones they once shared meals and stories with. The brothers and sisters they once trusted and developed bonds with.
“My respect and regards for the men and women we honor today is as strong and passionate as ever, because service isn’t restricted just to those who wear the uniform, but to all who support the families, communities, and the nation.
“I challenge each of you today to celebrate this weekend, that gift of life and spirit. Enjoy the company of friends and family so close to you, reflect on the blessings of your life, and simply take joy in being an American. It is in your celebration that you honor the sacrifice of our service members — not just today, but every day.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH