Area Honors Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day
Several services were held throughout the area Monday, in honor of Memorial Day.
In Middlebourne, the Auxiliary and Post Unit #48 were responsible for Monday’s services. The event featured the West Virginia Council Vietnam Veterans of America’s Mobile Wall. Dave Simmons, a veteran himself, is one of the main organizers of the traveling WV Vietnam Veterans Wall. Simmons noted the wall lists 732 names of West Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War; 17 Prisoners of War are still missing. Simmons said Tyler is the 48th county the Mobile Wall has visited. Simmons marked his visit by presenting Cathy Post, of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #48 with several Vietnam prints for the Tyler County Museum.
Middlebourne’s services also featured remarks by Jim Waybright, the late Gary Weekley’s Company Commander. Weekley was a Tyler County soldier who was in Vietnam for only six weeks when he was struck by an explosion ordinance on April 4, 1970 in Binh Hinh Province.
Commander Waybright noted that Weekley’s grave still has quarters on its headstone. A coin left on a headstone lets the deceased soldier’s family know that somebody stopped by to pay their respect. Quarters on a headstone are to mean that the person leaving the quarter was with the soldier when he died. Waybright noted the goodness of Tyler County, in that the quarters on Weekley’s headstone have not been removed.
Of Weekley, Waybright noted, “Sorry we couldn’t bring him home.”
First District Commander Robert “Doc” Pope also spoke Monday. He said he was proud to be invited to Middlebourne’s services. He noted because of veterans’ sacrifices, “we are free.”
Commander Pope noted when the country called, soldiers left the paths of peace to spring to arms.
Susan Wade, of Paden City Auxiliary Unit #86, read the History of the Poppy, and Bill Dawson spoke of what Memorial Day means to him, as well as the History of Heroes Day, which he started in West Virginia. Remarks were also heard by veterans Denny Longwell and Charles Clements.
Jace Glover and Bella Camerlin read their American Legion scholarship winning essays, while Juanita Williams, Katie Pratt, and Alaina Thompson – Girls State attendees – read poems. The Tyler Star News hopes to feature these writings, in their entirety, in a future edition.
Pastor Troy Guild led invocation at the beginning and end of the ceremony.
Middlebourne’s event also featured a parade.
Sistersville held a Memorial Day service on Monday, May 28 to recognize those brave men and women who have faced battle for the honor of our nation. The introduction and speech was given by Don Pickett, Commander of Sistersville VFW Post 6327. Pickett welcomed all the guests to the Declaration Day Ceremony, a day where graves are decorated with flowers to recognize those that have given the ultimate sacrifice by serving in the United States Military. A prayer was spoken for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The Sergeant of Arms then commanded the Color Guards to stand in attention while Danny Henthorn recited the National Anthem which was then followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pickett continued, “Today is a day of solemn day of remembrance for those who have died serving the United states Military.” Picket explained that the holiday was started after the Civil War to honor those killed in that conflict, both confederate and union. The 30th of May was originally designated for this memorial because flowers were most likely to be in bloom across the country at that time. Congress later officially changed the date to the last Monday in May. Pickett then gave staggering list of numbers of those who have fallen in war, those that are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters: The Civil War – 215,000; WWI 53,000; WWII 292,000; Korean War 33,000; Vietnam 58,000; Iraq and Afghanistan 9,300 and that number is growing. Add those numbers to with those missing in action and the number becomes staggering. In WWII alone, over 671,000 were wounded and 115,000 are missing. Comrades continue to serve the ultimate sacrifice for us and our nation and we must continue to show support and gratitude for these sacrifices.”We are assembled here to pay a lasting tribute of respect to our departed comrades” stated Pickett. He continued, “When the call of our country was heard, they answered, sacrificing themselves for the greater good.” These men and women left their families and marched for the freedom of every member of the United States of America.
In Paden City, veterans Colin Doig, John Hopkins, and Richard Gallagher were presented with handcrafted patriotic-themed quilts. Auxiliary member Susan Wade was responsible for placing the wreath in the river, in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Wade was escorted by Paden City Mayor Ken Stead.
Services were also held at Pine Grove’s Knights of Pythias Cemetery, as well as in New Martinsville and Hannibal, Ohio.