LEWISBURG — Veterans, village officials and other local residents celebrated Memorial Day by paying their respects to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who made “the ultimate sacrifice” in service to their country on Sunday, May 30. The ceremony took place in Roselawn Cemetery.
Rev. David Justice kicked off the proceedings by expressing gratitude for “all those men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation: those who died in battle or in peace time; those who suffered injuries that led to their deaths; and those who’ve suffered trauma or other mental health issues that caused them to take their own lives.”
“We give you thanks for this nation – for the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy,” Justice said. “We know that these things have come at a great cost.”
Mayor Marsha Jones thanked members of Disabled American Veterans and the Preble County Honor Guard for sponsoring the event, allowing the village to “carry on a tradition dating back to 1868.”
“Approximately 410 veterans are laid to rest in Roselawn Cemetery – ordinary people like us who answered the call to duty,” Jones said. “Our sorrow over their loss will never die. But if we remember them only in sorrow, we do them a disservice; we must make use of the opportunity to honor the dead by helping the living.”
Veteran and Harrison Township resident Fred Schreel then addressed the crowd.
“I’m honored to be chosen to speak here in my hometown; I grew up here, and graduated from Lewisburg-Union High School in 1964, part of the last class to do so,” Schreel said. “A year and a half later I was drafted into the Army; I served 14 months in Vietnam. My first child was born while I was there; when I first laid eyes on him, he was eight months old.
“I want to talk about heroes, and just what makes someone a hero,” Schreel continued. “When I was growing up in the 1950s, we kids played Army all the time; our heroes were our fathers, uncles, and in some cases older brothers. They were the ones we looked up to, and for good reason! They served when called upon, and that’s what a hero does.”
Schreel expressed thanks for the “new set of heroes” involved in the fight against COVID-19.
“First responders, EMTs, police, doctors, nurses, firemen, and all medical workers in general – they worked hours over and above what was asked of them,” Schreel said. “I don’t think any hero ever planned to do what won them their medals; it just happened, because they did their jobs.”
Schreel also gave thanks to those who lost limbs or suffered other debilitating injuries in the course of their service.
“They are the greatest heroes, because they live with that every day of their lives,” Schreel said.
Schreel closed his remarks by reciting a poem he’d written in honor of the occasion:
“We are Veterans, and yes, we do cry.
Sometimes it’s when we ask ourselves why?
Why was it a comrade who had to die?
When we think of those who did, tears form in each eye.”
“Other times it’s when we question why we are still here.
We do this more often than once or twice each year.
It happens when we hear ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’
Or when they raise the flag up the pole and we see it so clear.”
“So when we’re together paying our respects on Memorial Day,
You may see the tears swell and run on their way.
Or when we lose a fellow comrade, and it’s hard to know just what to say.
The tears flow as we bow our heads and reflect on all this as we pray.”
“Yes, we do cry, and we are proud to say we are Veterans!”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish