NEW PARIS — The Village of New Paris recognized the Memorial Day holiday with a parade and ceremony on Saturday, May 25.
The parade featured many local organizations who marched down into Spring Lawn Cemetery for a service.
Parade participants included the Preble County Honor Guard, National Trail Marching Band, National Trail FFA, Dire Skates Roller Derby members, Preble County Council on Aging and many others.
The main speaker for the event was Joan Steinberger. She shared the history of New Paris and the wars which have impacted the community, beginning with World War II, which started when Steinberger was only 10 years old.
“At that age, I did not comprehend the gravity of the situation. Until the young men of our village of New Paris began being drafted and enlisting in the service of our country. When several ended up as Missing in Action, wounded, Prisoners of War, or casualties, I understood,” she said.
“At that time, Memorial Day — or Decoration Day as it was known then — was a big day in New Paris. It was always observed on May the 30th, no matter what day of the week it happened to fall. As with most things, nothing can last forever. By an act of Congress in 1971, the holiday was moved to the last Monday in May so everyone could have a three-day weekend.
“In addition to remembering the sacrifices of our fallen servicemen, another event on this weekend was and is the Indianapolis 500 Mile Auto race. It has run continuously since 1911, except for 1917 and 1918 due to World War I and 1942-1945 during the second World War, when metal, rubber, and gasoline was rationed and used for the war effort. Also, many potential race drivers were in the service of our country.
“Many villagers walked or drove to the cemetery to listen to the speaker, hear the band play the National Anthem, see the raising of Old Glory, watch the veterans lay a wreath on the tomb, hear the firing squad salute fallen comrades, and listen to the trumpet play taps with its distant echo floating over the grounds.
“We give thanks on this day to these men who gave a portion or all of their lives to secure our freedoms. These are our heroes, our veterans. Without their courage to give up a slice of their lives to join a branch of our military knowing they might never return home, without their patriotism that consists of their pride and love of our country, without their faith in the policies of our country and belief in a higher power than themselves, without their strength to act in the face of certain danger and possible dismemberment or even death, without our soldiers, sailors, marines, air force, coastguard, national guard our country would be less safe.
“We, the residents of New Paris, Ohio, have been coming to Spring Lawn Cemetery on Memorial Day for many years. We sit aside these few moments of our busy lives to pay tribute to these brave service men and women who give time out of their own lives to hopefully secure freedom for all of us and our children for generations to come. May God bless our veterans.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH