Rick Jones, speaking to those attending the 11th annual Veterans Program at the Morrow County Fair Sunday, September 6, said, “We all stand here today because of the veterans who have served in the past and the present.”
Jones, a retired school teacher who has interviewed many veterans, said, “We are free citizens of the United States of America because of great great grandfathers who served during the Civil War and grandfathers or great uncles who served during World War II or fathers who served in Korea or during the Cold War and the nieces and nephews who served during the war on Terrorism. All of our present is a result of our past.”
To illustrate a true sacrifice of a past veteran, Jones read a poignant letter written July 14, 1861 from a soldier to his wife, on the eve of his movement into action during the Civil War. His letter, written as a good by to her and his small son, was one of love for her but also of devotion to his country and the duty that he accepted. Realizing that this duty could end in death he said ‘O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the brightest day and in the darkest night – amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.”
Jones paralleled the sentiments and loyalty of this soldier to today’s veterans. “This is the tension that all veterans have to face,” he said. Jones quoted President Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg address: “The great task before us is still the United States of America that they who fought here gave and give to us.”
He also quoted General Lucian Truscott, commander of the US 5th Army in Italy on Memorial Day, 1945 when he looked over the graves of young Americans that had been his soldiers and said he was sorry for what he had done- admitting he had made mistakes that cost those men their lives and asked for their forgiveness.
Keeping the general’s words in mind Jones apologized to all the veterans there Sunday on behalf of the civilians there for not voting “when we should have, for not sending enough letters to our elected officials asking them to be mindful when they send our most precious treasure into combat.
Again, for not writing elected officials demanding that they take care of our veterans through the VA hospitals and VA benefits. “
“We the people of Morrow County are safe and secure in our liberties because of our Morrow county veterans,”said Jones.
The man who wrote the letter Jones quoted was killed in action at the first battle of Bull Run shortly after he wrote the letter.
Bruce Fissell emceed the veterans program. Special music “I’m Proud to be an American,”was sung by Steve Brenneman and the National Anthem was performed by the merged four county high school bands.
The Fly By during the program was made by Carl “Butch” Fisher, Jr. and Joe Dreyer from Fisher Agri Service.
The wreath was placed at the ‘Unknown Soldier” Silhouette by Barbara Arndt, Unit 310 Marengo and Esther Cellan, Unit 97 Cardington. The bag pipe was played by Mark Melroy.
Each of the high school bands played a patriotic number and Christian Vasquez from the Veterans Service Office gave the roll call by war.
Darci Woods from the Veterans Service office, offered a reading.
Giving the invocation and benediction was Chaplain Lawrence Combs from the Joint Veterans Council.
Members of the Rifle Squad were from VFW Post 8054 and AMVETS Post 87 Dan Fricke, Sgt-at-Arms.
Also participating were members of the Highland ROTC directed by John Sachleben and Aaron Shipley. County band directors are John Brehm, Cardington-Lincoln; James Kim, Highland; Todd Fessler, Mount Gilead; and Chris Kaschube, Northmor.
This program was sponsored by the Morrow County Agricultural Society; Morrow County Joint Veterans Council, the Morrow County Veterans and the Morrow County Veterans Service Office.
Evelyn Long is a correspondent with the Morrow County Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.