Warm temperatures and sunny skies were the perfect background for one of the most memorable Memorial Day services in Cardington history with 500 attending.
It was also a rededication of the Civil War Monument in Glendale Cemetery.
The event kicked off in Cardington Community Park where members of the Jenkins-Vaughan Post 97 Rifle Squad paid tribute to six members who passed away the past year: Charles Morris, Gene Davis, Dick Himler, Ron Coleman, Paul DeSelms and Gerald Blue.
The parade resumed, led by the Cardington-Lincoln High School marching band, directed by John Brehm, and 303 walkers, each representing a name on the newly renovated Civil War Monument in Glendale Cemetery.
The parade included one rider-less horse. The walkers followed East Main Street to Glendale Cemetery where each was seated while Ryan Praskovich played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
The program, conducted at the site of the newly restored and refurbished monument, was led by master of ceremonies Wes Goodman.
Speaker Pat Drouhard led the committee that raised the $40,000 for the restoration of the monument which was first erected by Cardington Township citizens in 1889 to commemorate the service and sacrifice made by hundreds of its residents in the Civil War.
Drouhard traced the history of several of those named on the monument and described the drive to raise the money for its repair. The printed program included the names of more than 118 individuals and 13 organizations who had donated to the cause.
Drouhard named deceased veterans, Sam Brockway, Jake Bovey, Jim Donel, James St. John, Chuck Burt, Ralf Calihan, Rex Jenkins, Stanley Shaw, Ed Shoults and Gary Lyons, who died in conflicts that occurred since the Civil War and with the exception of Shaw, whose body was never recovered, are buried in Glendale. He described the lives of several local residents who were in the Civil War including Robert Long and Peyton Shields, who survived and returned to continue their lives.
The speaker expressed appreciation to committee members Dawn and Troy Ruehrmund, Diane McClure, Wes Goodman, Vickie Ullom and Velda Montgomery, who worked with him on this project.
Drouhard then dismissed 151 of the walkers to stand by the graves of those named on the monument.
Jim Morris, past Post 97 commander, conducted the rededication ceremony of the monument and current Commander Jim Crawford led the POW -MIA Remembrance Service. Members of Auxiliary Unit 97 placed the memorial wreaths.
Twins Dawn Ruehrmund and Diane McClure, great, great great granddaughters of Civil War veteran S. C. Kirkpatrick, gave the invocation and his great, great, great, great granddaughter, Tess Ruerhmund, gave General Logan’s Orders. Quinn Macyeko gave the Gettysburg Address. Also speaking was Cardington Mayor Susie Peyton.
Sunshine and a cool breeze were the setting for Memorial Day as crowds waited to watch the parade and lined the streets and square in Mount Gilead Monday.
Marching with the Color Guard in the parade from Cherry Street to Rivercliff Cemetery was 92-year-old Cecil Denton, a World War II veteran.
Denton was in combat at the end of the war in the Pacific. He was at the landing at Mindanao in the Philippines as a scout in the 21st Infantry, 24th Division.
Denton was glad to have a mild, sunny day for the parade and Color Guard Commander Mike McKinney was impressed that Denton marched the entire parade route with them.
U.S. Army veteran Tim Sharrock led the crowd gathered at Rivercliff in the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced speakers. He thanked the Color Guard and Rifle firing squad for their participation in six ceremonies this Memorial Day weekend as well as being at the graveside of veterans when they are honored.
Pastor Jeff Canankamp of Trinity United Methodist Church offered the opening prayer and read the Roll Call of veterans in all wars who are interred at Rivercliff Cemetery.
Cub Scouts from Troop 56 Hudson Hand and Connor Arndt placed flowers at the veterans’ monument.
Sharrock thanked the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Troop 56 for placing flags on veterans’ graves throughout the cemetery. He thanked Captain Daniel Fricke who has served for 45 years as Captain of the Color Guard and Rifle Firing Squad. Fricke served in the Army in Vietnam.
Morrow County Commissioner Tom Whiston spoke of the “Debt of honor we owe to all of the men and women who have served our nation and given their last full measure to protect our nation and our freedoms.”
Whiston said he was fortunate to have a great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War. His grandfather was inducted into the military service in 1918 and his father Howard Whiston served as Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Whiston spoke with emotion “in honor and respect of Mount Gilead High School classmate Jeffrey Bret Harper, who is buried in Rivercliff.”
Harper graduated from Otterbein University in 1982 and enlisted in the military in 1984. He earned his commission as the Distinguished Honor Graduate of his Officer Candidate School class in 1991. Jeff then served as an Air Defense Artillery officer until his death July 06, 2007. During his military career he earned numerous medals and honors and served two unaccompanied tours in Korea.
Whiston closed with the words of Abraham Lincoln that appear on the north side of the Victory Shaft in downtown Mount Gilead:
“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
The village conducted its first Memorial Day program in two years with participation by the Cardington-Lincoln High School Marching band directed by John Brehm, members of the Post 97 American Legion Post and Squadron 97 of the Sons of the American Legion.
The Gettysburg Address was delivered by Cardington-Lincoln High School senior Luke Goers.
Speaker Gerald Mooney reviewed General Orders No 11, which designated May 30, 1868, for the purpose of strewing with flowers and otherwise decorating graves of comrades who died in defense of their country. He also repeated “I Speak for Democracy,” which he had heard while a student in school.
He reviewed life today and how things have changed with more people living in the USA, adding some things remain the same.
“America is still the melting pot of people giving us a vibrant culture of traditions and foods and he listed ice cream, baseball amber waves of grain in Kansas and Oklahoma and corn fields in Ohio. He cautioned there are still communists and fascists in the world and new varieties of ideologies, “whose goal is to take away our freedom.”
The speaker paid tribute to those who fought and died at Lexington and Gettsyburg, Normandy and Heartbreak Ridge and places like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, United States and others. He suggested support of these military members being made by continuing to honor them on special days: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, etc.
Mayor Michele Bronson was master of ceremonies. Invocation was given by Tag Loudermilk and Jan Loudermilk gave the benediction.