The Fayette County Veterans Service Commission, in conjunction with members of the VFW Post 3762 and the American Legion Post 25, held its Memorial Day service on Friday at the Old Pioneer Cemetery behind Dairy Queen.
The event began with the mistress of ceremony Patricia Dewees welcoming the small crowd that had gathered under umbrellas and a nearby tree to shelter from a consistent drizzle. Dewees introduced Washington Court House City Manager Joe Denen who spoke about the Old Pioneer Cemetery.
“We would like to extend a tremendous amount of thanks to the Fayette County Honor Guard — who will be very busy this weekend, the folks at the Veterans Service Commission — especially Tasha (Jackson) who does a tremendous amount of work for today’s program, and all of you folks in the rain who have joined us at the old cemetery,” Denen said. “The cemetery you see today is smaller than it originally was. When the rail line was constructed, a number of graves were relocated to the current (Washington) cemetery. It is always a point of pride for me on Memorial Day that we take time in Washington Court House to remember the veterans and the cemetery you see today. In many communities, a cemetery like this on a rainy day would be forgotten. But I think it says a lot about us that we take the time to remember and to recognize the cemetery here. For many years, this cemetery was taken care of by the local Kiwanis Club, and we have members here today that would remember coming out on the weekend and doing some mowing and maintaining the cemetery here. As the years went on and folks became a little bit older, the maintenance of the cemetery became a responsibility of the City of Washington Court House. That is a pleasure and point of pride for us.”
Next, the invocation was performed by The Gathering Place Church Pastor John Pfeifer. Two Washington Lions Club members and local veterans Rodney Wright and Ray Deeks presented the flag.
Raising the flag this year was Fayette County Veterans Service Commissioner Russell Bernard and the new Fayette County Veterans Service Officer William Rheinscheld. Bernard is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving during Desert Storm. Rheinscheld is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Iraq. While the duo raised the flag, Meagan Coffman with The Gathering Place Church sang the National Anthem, followed by Fayette County Veterans Service Claims Benefits Counselor Valorie Morton leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Following a poem from Dewees, she introduced the main speaker for the ceremony — Edward “Eddie” Fisher, a Fayette County Veterans Service Commissioner and U.S. Coast Guard Veteran during the Korean Conflict.
According to a bio from Dewees, Fisher transferred with the Armco Steel Corporation to Washington Court House in 1960. From that time on, he has served the City of Washington Court House and Fayette County in “all facets of this area from campfire guests to city council.” He was rewarded for his labors and was installed in the Ohio State Senior Citizens Hall of Fame on May 9, 2009.
Fisher enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1950 and served aboard the Cutter Beech for three years during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged and is currently very active in the American Legion and has been for 54 years.
Following the reading of his bio, Fisher began to talk about remembering the sacrifice of those men and women who keep the country safe and free.
“May 30 is a very important day in America,” Fisher said. “It was set aside by our government for Americans to remember and to honor those men and women who gave us this great country through their sacrifices in the armed forces of our nation. We should remember the sacrifices of our service men and women who answered the call to duty. They put the welfare of others ahead of their own and gave us hearts as generous as theirs. When the need was greatest, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy and to win the same for others. There is not greater love than that which gives itself for another. These honored dead gave the most precious gift they have — life itself.”
“American men and women have in each generation challenged those skeptics and tyrants around the world who would take away our freedom and self government,” Fisher continued. “This day on Memorial Day we will pay homage to those men and women who gave their lives around the world defending our way of life for a better world, a peaceful world, in which all people could enjoy a life with freedom. We honor those who confidently marched away for our country and never came home. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and children feel a great loss for the rest of their lives.”
“Today, as we enjoy the freedom to do whatever we dream, it’s because of those heroes who we honor, never again will they witness the beautiful changing of the seasons, nor hear their child’s first words nor feel the warm sun on their faces,” Fisher concluded. “All that we are and have as a nation is because of these brave men and women. They risked all and gave all for the freedom that we enjoy today reminding us, not just on Memorial Day, but every day that freedom isn’t free. All gave some — some gave all.”
To conclude the ceremony, Liam Rheinscheld and Cameron Morton placed the flags, Fayette County Veterans Service Commissioner and U.S. Army Veteran Robert Malone placed the wreath and some closing remarks were given from Rheinscheld. With a benediction from Pfeifer, the Fayette County Honor Guard performed a 21 Gun Salute and performed Taps in memory of those who served.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.