It was almost perfect weather for the first Memorial Day service held in the county this year on Friday afternoon at the Old Washington Cemetery located at the dead end of East Street.
It was a small, but enthusiastic crowd that gathered at the oldest cemetery in the City of Washington. Most of those heroes who are interred there died during the War of 1812.
The master of ceremonies was Edward Fisher, a Coast Guard veteran from the Korean Conflict. Fisher is also a Veterans Service Commissioner. Washington Court House City Manager Joe Denen opened the ceremony by telling the history of the old cemetery, and Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean welcomed all those participating in the ceremony and all those who came to watch. Pastor John Pfeifer offered the invocation. At this point in the ceremony, Lynn Hertler, secretary of Kiwanis of Washington Court House, presented the flag to Vietnam veteran (Army) Eddie Wynne and Iraq veteran (Army) Amy Jackson for the raising of the flag. Jackson is the Fayette County Veterans Service Officer and Wynne is a Fayette County Veterans Service Commissioner.
Members of the Washington school choir led those assembled in singing the national anthem. Next, veteran Charles “Buck” Harris, Korean Conflict (Army), led those gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance. Harris is also a Veterans Service Commissioner.
Korean Conflict (Navy) Veteran John Mason read a poem about veterans. At this point Edward Fisher introduced the speaker, veteran Phil French, Lt. Col., Air Force (Ret.) French spoke about the bravery of those men who are buried in the Old Washington Cemetery and about the anguish their families must have gone through after their deaths. And, as French pointed out, it was not parents and siblings, but two sets of grandparents, neighbors and friends, teachers and others in the small community that made up Washington Court House in the early 1800s.
While researching for this speech, French found the following statistics: during WWI, 45 Fayette County men were killed in action; during WWII, 90 men were killed in action; during the Korean conflict, 17 Fayette County men were killed and, during Vietnam, 13 died in action. That is 165 men who died, 330 parents, and 606 grandparents, along with countless siblings and friends mourning the loss of lives. Who knows the potential of those lives lost and the lost potential for Fayette County?
Marcus and Mason Jackson, sons of Amy Jackson, placed the American flags at each stone representing the 11 men known to be buried in the cemetery followed by Vietnam veteran Bob Malone (Army) placing the wreath at the base of the flag.
The Washington School Band played the benediction and the Fayette County Honor guard offered a 21-gun salute. Veterans Larry Bishop and Zeke Zastrow played Taps to close the ceremony.