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|05-27-03: Mercer County residents remember veterans
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
American men and women who gave their lives in the recent war with Iraq
were on the minds of many who attended Memorial Day services throughout the area Monday.
In morning services in Mendon, the Rev. Dean Bruce told the story of
his cousin, Ruth Lerg. Lerg and her husband both are in the military and both were
deployed to Kuwait in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. Stationed 40 miles apart, they
not only were separated from each other, but also from their 2-year-old son who was back
home in Iowa, Bruce said.
The couple ended up watching the toddler's second birthday party by
satellite as part of television spot on CBS's "60 Minutes" program.
"We need to remember the sacrifices that she and others like her
have made so that we can be America," Bruce told a crowd of a couple hundred people.
Americans also must constantly remember those who have given their
lives protecting freedom, Bruce said.
"If we forget, we desecrate the graves of those who have died to
give us freedom. We desecrate those who fought. Let us never forget," Bruce said.
Celina American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans
of America posts took part in the ceremony.
They marched down Main Street and then offered a firing squad salute
from the bridge over the St. Marys River. Women from the posts' auxiliary units cast
flowers into the river in remembrance of veterans. The Parkway High School band also
performed several pieces.
In Celina, at a ceremony staged at the veterans memorial located at the
intersection of Main and Logan streets, Mercer County Veterans Services Officer Tom Risch
also mentioned those who served in Iraq.
"It looks like all of our boys and girls will be coming
home," Risch said of Mercer County natives serving in the Mideast. War casualties did
strike close to home, though, he said, noting the death of U.S. Marine Pfc. Christian
Gurtner of Ohio City.
Risch urged a couple hundred spectators to continue to pray for and
support those serving in and around Iraq. He also praised the efforts of Sandy and Denny
Thornton and Mary and Dan Snider who started the wall of yellow ribbons next the the
memorial. When all local troops have returned home, a ceremony will be held to present
them with the yellow ribbons so they can see the support local people showed for their
efforts, Risch said.
Ohio state Rep. Derrick Seaver, D-Minster, also spoke to the Celina
crowd. He mentioned the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and remembered the
33,600 Americans who died in that conflict.
On the nation's more recent wars, including the ongoing war on terror
and the campaign in Iraq, Seaver said it was his grandfather who put in perspective for
the young politician after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, why it is sometimes necessary
"He said, ODerrick, it's the right thing to do,' " Seaver
The VFW, American Legion and Vietnam Veterans also met earlier in the
morning for a brief ceremony honoring the war dead at Mercer Memory Gardens west of
Services including a parade and remarks from local officials were also
held in Rockford. At that ceremony, Mercer County Commissioner Jim Zehringer remembered
all veterans who served in wars during the last century and the early part of this one. He
also noted the increasing accomplishments of women in the military and said their role has
been overlooked by many.
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