VINTON — Think of such far-flung places as Gettysburg, Antietam, Pearl Harbor or Corregidor, and you cannot help but be reminded of them as locations where American lives were taken in defense of freedom, the guest speaker at Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremony in Vinton Memorial Park told a receptive audience.
“When you think of these things, you get more of an understanding of what it’s all about,” said Patrick Stout, a member of American Legion Post 161 of Vinton, which with its Women’s Auxiliary organizes the annual ceremony. “It makes you think of the 1.2 million who gave their lives.”
A retired educator and principal of River Valley High School, Stout said the Memorial Day holiday allows time to reflect on the meaning of the ultimate sacrifice to preserve a way of life for their families and friends. Memories of past celebrations and other keys in our daily existence remind us of an obligation to honor those men and women who left their families and dreams to defend those qualities of life for others, he added.
“We hope this teaches us the value of sacrifice, the courage it takes to leave home and go to a foreign country,” Stout said. “These are constant reminders of the sacrifice of so many.”
A feature of the celebration was the participation of local students now starting their summer break, pausing to lend a hand to the proceedings. “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung by RVHS student Josie Jones and Lydia Jones, who starts at River Valley Middle School when classes resume in August. “I Am the Flag” was recited by Ruth Rickett, and a Memorial Day tribute was read by Rebecca Pearson.
Instructions for the ceremonial flag folding were read by Sydnee Runyon, while participants in the exercise included John Santos, Thomas Stout, Mason Rhodes, Ethan Schultz, Kade Alderman and Kaden Thornton. Reading aloud the roll call of major wars were Lexi and Abby Stout, Bryleigh Saxon, Kristen Campbell, John and Abigail Siciliano, Abigail Kirk, Katie Stout, Madison and Carson Hollanbaugh, Preston Retmire and Ava McClure. All were volunteers from RVMS and Vinton Elementary School.
Post 161 Chaplain Bob Mitchell provided the invocation and benediction for the ceremony, and a wreath was placed at the cemetery’s flag base by the post’s auxiliary. Don Holcomb read aloud Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, with John Holcomb performing “Taps” to help close the event. The 21-gun salute was provided by members of Post 161.
In welcoming the audience, Post Commander Bob McCarley thanked such groups as Beta Club, 4-H, Vinton Masonic Lodge 131 and others for helping to stage the ceremony. Those individuals’ “good participation makes things easier in the community,” McCarley added.