PREBLE COUNTY — Veterans’ Day was officially held on Wednesday, Nov. 11, but several institutions throughout Preble County celebrated the holiday throughout the week.
The week kicked off with a special program at during the Rotary Club meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, where they had a special honored guests who included war veterans as well as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Chamber of Commerce President Matt Owen, along with Ray Potter and Preble County Council on Aging Prom King Jerry Keix, were recognized at the event.
Owen served during the Persian Gulf War while Potter was a World War II veteran and Feix served during the Korean War.
All three spoke about their time in service, remembering some of their fondest memories.
Owen recounted the time he was able to shake three former presidents’ hands during an event. More specifically, he remembers meeting Gerald Ford, a graduate and football player at the University of Michigan.
“I told him I was from Ohio. He asked me if I was a Buckeye fan. I said ‘Yes, Sir.” He said “Good, you’re from Ohio. You should be,” then whispered “Go Blue,” said Owen.
Cookie Young, a newly inducted member to DAR also spoke about veteran ties to the area.
Young shared a story about Commodore Preble during his time in the Navy. He was joined by several other heroic officers, such as William Eaton, James Barron, and Stephen Decatur.
The man who laid out the town used several of these naval officer names for the streets, said Young.
As the story goes, in 1820, after Barron and Decatur had a disagreement, they settled the argument with a duel, with Decatur being killed. In his last dying breaths, it’s recorded that he said, “Oh Lord, I’m a dead man.”
As the city is laid out, any traveler heading North along Barron will eventually intersect with Decatur.
“It just seems a little mean to me that throughout eternity, poor old Decatur has to have Barron crossing over him all the time,” joked Young.
Young went on to talk about the vital role several women played during times of war, often taking care of sick soldiers, tending to crops and livestock, and sewing blankets and socks for the men serving.
They were also instrumental in several key battles of the war.
“Knowing just how important women had been to the American Revolution and helping the patriots, women wanted to form their own patriotic organization,” she said.
Members of National Trail’s choir sang two songs to open up the special ceremony as well, paying tribute to the military with “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
On Wednesday, the official day for the holiday, several students and parents gathered into Eaton’s auditorium and the middle school bands and choir put on a special program.
They first opened with the Star Spangled Banner before being led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Madeline Ebright and Jordan Marsh, the honor society representatives
Principal Derek Flatter introduced several veterans that were in attendance before inviting Sgt. Jake Daily to the podium to deliver his message.
“Most Americans profess to truly love our veterans, especially on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. While their feelings are usually sincere, it is important to remember that veterans are defending us 365 days a year,” said Daily. “The heroism that has been demonstrated time and again by veterans from the American Revolution to the global war on terrorism is sometimes unnoticed by those of us who enjoy the security that the veteran’s sacrifice has provided.”
Daily spoke of the hardships and tragedies that far too often come with being a in the military – including loss of friends, strained home life, continual moves, and even sometimes the loss on their own life.
“Our warriors need advocates and that is why we, America’s citizens, must stand ready to make that extra effort in support and assistance when the need is recognized,” he said.
He also addressed issues that befall several veterans even today. Daily encouraged support of veterans in any way possible, such as hiring a veteran in the workplace, visiting a VA hospital, or donating to veteran programs. Several of the homeless citizens in the country are also veterans.
“We can do better. We must do better,” said Daily. “Veterans have given us freedom, security, and the greatest nation on earth. It is impossible to put a price on that.”
The ceremony ended with the Eaton seventh grade band playing the “Anthem of Liberty” and the “Young American March.” The choir sang “Johnny has Gone for a Solider” and “Our America” before the eighth grade band ended with “America the Beautiful” and “Marches of the Armed Forces.”
During the “Marches of the Armed Forces” song, when a member of the military heard his or her services song, they stood to be recognized by the crowd.
Moving forward to Saturday afternoon, seven members of Boy Scout troop 78 participated in a flag burning ceremony, where they properly disposed of around 300 American flags.
Members of the legion inspected and presented the unserviceable flags.
“These flags have become faded and worn over the graves of our departed comrades and dead soldiers and sailors of all our Nation’s wars. Some of these flags have been displayed in various public places,” said sergeant-at-arms Paul Hebbeler. “Commander, we have the honor to present for final inspection and proper disposal these flags of our country.”
The flag, in order to be properly disposed of, was cut into several pieces – separating the blue field as well as each individual stripe. Each scout took one of the stripes and disposed of it in a fire, saluting in respect after placing it on the flame.
A new flag was then raised on the pole at the Legion by Jacob Eitel, Liam Wappenstein, and Logan Cottle.
Members of the scout troop who also participated were Caleb Eitel, CJ Ketron, Nate Ketron, and Kameron Sandifer. They were led by troop leader Jeff Eitel.
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.