MOUNT GILEAD — The weather was picture perfect for the Memorial Day dedication of the new Veterans Memorial at Bryn Zion Cemetery.
Master of Ceremonies Ric Lyle gave the history of the memorial that began as the vision of World War II veteran Harold McCammon in 1991. McCammon gathered World War II veterans Bob Chapman, Loren Coldwell, Dean Higgins and Ned Higgins to construct the memorial.
That memorial consisted of the flag pole surrounded by two-foot high half circle concrete wall which contained flag holders from every war in which the United States had soldiers fighting. Through the years the monument had weathered and was in dire need of replacement.
In April 2019 a new vision for a Veteran’s Memorial was created by Jessie Thompson and Lyle and the plan was proposed to the Bryn Zion Cemetery, Tri-township board. After several months of fund raising, the monument was ordered through Gompf Monuments. Construction of the foundation was started on May 30, 2020, by Osborne Energy Builders and Vaughn Corwin Excavation.
Concrete was poured and the monument was put in place on August 15, 2020.
“Harold, Bob, Loren, Dean and Ned are no longer with us,” Lyle said. “But they would be proud of the new Veteran’s Memorial honoring our military heroes.”
Veterans Services help offered
Lyle introduced veteran Frank Moore, who is in the Color Guard and is a Commissioner for the Veterans Service Office in Morrow County. More spoke of his experience in the service as a 19-year-old in 1985 serving in the desert in the Middle East.
He was returning home before Christmas when one of three planes transporting servicemen went down over Newfoundland and all 248 on the plane were killed. Moore said he spent the next year burying the bodies of those young men and serving notice to their families.
Moore said he struggled with after effects of his service until he finally went to the Veterans Service Office in Mount Gilead. He credits the Veterans Service Office and their help with turning his life around in a positive way.
Moore said the signs of veterans who are struggling with PTSD are evident. Moore implored the crowd, “If you know a veteran, get them through the doors of the Veterans Service Office for help and support.”
Participants in the ceremony
Featured speaker Bernie Kessler of the Sons of the American Legion spoke of the importance of the American tradition of honoring the fallen.
“Make a habit of remembrance and to always remember the fallen and their families,” Kessler said.
The Flag Rededication presentations were made in honor of Betty Ritchey by Mitchell Madeker. Presentations were for: Robert Chapman, Dan Lyle, Francis Coldwell, Lawrence E. Coldwell, Thomas J. Crawford, Larry A. Crawford, Russel Jagger Ned Higgins and Henry Kiser.
Twelve veterans came forward with Lyle to place flags in the flag holders of the new memorial. The flag holders represented every war and armed conflict in which the United States fought.
Pastor Jeff Hubschman of Bryn Zion Baptist Church offered the opening prayer and benediction.
Youth and children led the Pledge of Allegiance and passed out flags and programs. Madilyn Elson sang the National Anthem.
Lyle recognized the family of Larry Shotwell for helping with the sound system. A member of their family has played Taps at the conclusion of the Memorial Day Ceremony for 25 years.
This year the ceremony ended with the haunting notes of “Taps” echoing across the cemetery, played by Liam Shotwell.
Veterans place flags at the new Bryn Zion memorial.