GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County residents gathered in Gallipolis City Park on Monday to partake in the annual Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony in celebration of American military service members and to remember those who have given their lives for the country.
John Thomas, of Gallia Veterans Service Staff, served as Master of Ceremonies and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The River Valley High School Show Choir led the crowd in the National Anthem. Pastor John Jackson led the invocation.
Thomas introduced area commanders and the Gallia Veterans Service Commission. Bill Mangus represented the VFW. Charles Huber represented the American Legion in Gallipolis. Robert McCarley represented the American Legion in Vinton. Keith Jeffers represented the DAV and AmVets. Larry Marr represented the VVA. Jim Doss represented the Marine Corp League. Jim Oiler represented the Sons of Union Veterans. Thomas serves as executive director of the Veterans Service Staff. Roger Houck serves as an investigator and officer and Jason Danford serves as an officer and administrator. In the Veterans Service Commission, Gary Fenderbosch serves as president, Bob McCarley as vice president, Jon Lynch as secretary, Tom White as a member and Keith Jeffers as a member.
A wreath was at the Dough Boy by the ladies auxiliary before Thomas introduced guest speaker David Perry.
Perry was born in Dayton and comes from a line of military service. He graduated from Rio Grande College in 1982 and would go on to serve in a career of education and its administration for several years. He developed a program for the Ohio Rehabilitation Service Commission and Ohio Department of Education along with develoing a program for the severely behavior handicapped at Rio Grande Elementary. Perry enlisted in the US Army in 1974 and served until 1979. He received combat training and AIT at Fort Jackson, S.C. He would serve at Fort Knox, Ky. as well as in Heidelberg, Germany.
“We cannot forget to afford those who sealed their fate on the battlefield of freedom,” said Perry. “We owe (veterans) a debt we cannot repay. I repeat. We owe them a debt we cannot repay.”
“I was reading in my Bible a couple of days ago in the book of Deuteronomy,” said Perry. “I want to read you two verses. “When you go out to battle and see people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them for the Lord, your God, is with you and fights for you. The Bible is clear that God says those who bless Israel will be blessed. Those who curse Israel will be cursed. We have blessed Israel and that’s why the United States has been so powerful because the God of the universe is with us and fights for us.”
“The soldiers in World War II were dying at an average of a thousand a day,” said Perry. “I have personally walked the hallowed grounds of Luxembourg, an American cemetery where 5,076 service members are buried. On 22 occasions, two brothers rest side-by-side in adjacent graves.”
Perry asked the crowd to repeat a phrase with him seven times as he asked the crowd the same question.
“Who are the American military we honored today?” he asked.
“They are the faithful ones who died,” the crowd repeated of passed veterans, seen as faithful to country and family.
Fenderbosch read a list of veterans who passed between Memorial Day of last year and this year. Jackson would read the benediction after a song by Allyson Johnston.
The ceremony’s honor guard would end the event by firing a salute and with the playing of taps.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.