EATON — The traditional observation of Memorial Day in Eaton included a stop for a wreath ceremony at the Main Street bridge over Seven Mile Creek before moving on to Mound Hill Cemetery on Monday, May 31.
Jan Michael Gant, senior vice commander of the Eaton Post VFW 8066, kicked off the ceremony at the bridge.
“The purpose of this ceremony this morning is to remember those sailors lost at sea, soldiers in identified graves and soldiers missing in action,” he said prior to the wreath presentation.
City, county, and state officials attended the ceremony which continued at Mound Hill, where Rev. Lowell Spencer opened with benediction. The Eaton High School band was on hand to perform the “Star Spangled Banner” and a medley of other patriotic music.
Rob Jamison, who served 36 years in the Air Force, served as keynote speaker for the ceremony and shared several personal stories while honoring those who fought for America’s freedoms.
“We’re not here for me, for anybody behind me, for anyone up here. This is for the people who are not here. We owe them enduring gratitude,” he said. “Years ago, they raised their right hand and swore to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies. 1.6 million left and never came back.”
He continued, “So we need to remember that with reverence. And none of them ‘gave’ their life. None of them. They fought tooth and nail to keep it. I hear people say, you know, ‘he gladly gave his life.’ No he didn’t. They fought to the end.
“When I was a kid, I actually lived the American dream. I used to ride a bike through the cemetery, go to the Fort, had a paper route, shoveled snow — did everything a kid would do — but I was free. And I never remembered, never knew, who actually gave me that freedom. There was a cost for that. Someone had to pay for that, not only these people here, but all veterans that went.”
Local singing group Something Good performed a medley of patriotic music prior to members of the Wright Patterson Honor Guard presenting the flag folding ceremony as Jim Favorite presented a history of the flag.
“Between 1777 and 1960, the flag shape and design evolved into the flag presented before you today,” he said. “The 13 horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies, while the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well, as red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white signifies purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance and reverence in justice. Traditionally a symbol of liberty, the American flag has carried the message of freedom and inspired Americans both at home and abroad.”
He continued, “We represent the flag and express our gratitude to those individuals who fought and continue to fight for our freedom at home and abroad. Since the dawn of the 20th Century airmen have proudly flown the flag in every manner, conflict, lands and skies around the world. It is our responsibility to continue to protect and preserve the rights and privileges and freedoms that we have today. The United States flag represents who we are. It stands for the freedom we all share, and the pride and the patriotism we all have for our country. Cherish its legacy as a beacon of hope to one and all. Long may it wave.”
The Preble County Honor Guard presented a 21-gun salute and played “Taps,” followed be a performance of “God Bless America” by Something Good to close the ceremony.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr