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05-27-03: Mercer County residents remember veterans
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 to fight.
    "He said, ODerrick, it's the right thing to do,' " Seaver said.
    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 Celina.
    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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