GALLIPOLIS — Area residents gathered Sunday in the Gallipolis City Park to recognize the service of veterans current and past after the annual parade down Second Avenue.
Executive Director John Thomas, of the Gallia Veterans Service Office, served as master of ceremonies and led the Pledge of Allegiance. River Valley High School’s Phoenix show choir led the National Anthem and patriotic songs throughout the ceremony. Pastor John Jackson led the invocation.
Thomas introduced guests Bill Mangus, of VFW 4464, Charlie Huber of American Legion Post 27, Bob McCarley of American Legion Post 161, Keith Jeffers of the DAV and AmVets, Larry Marr of the VVA, Jim Doss of the Marine Corps League and James Oiler of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.
New Life Lutheran Pastor and retired Army combat medic Michael Giese served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“Our United States is under attack,” said Giese. “No, our enemy is not caravans of people trying to seek a better way of life. Instead, we are being attacked by those who are determined to sow anger, division and discord among us. The enemy has found that it’s easy to attack us because we have not been on guard. Their tactic is a basic military maneuver. They keep us focused on a distraction while they attack from the flank. Anyone with any kind of military experience knows this is a basic maneuver. The thing is we won’t see it coming until it’s too late and this enemy is intent upon taking away from us the God-given rights we hold deal, the rights of light, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“There’s a lot of division in our country,” continued the pastor,” and I believe that this division has happened because we have forgotten our civic responsibilities or at least we have forgotten the rules of engagement. Now, while President George Washington, believe it or not, had 110 Rules of Civility at his disposal, today we don’t have to memorize those rules. We can widdle it down to three. Please, remember this. Rule number one, follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. Number two: if you don’t like how things are going, do something about it. Volunteer, run for office, put yourself in position where you can understand why the decision makers do the things that they do. If you still don’t like it, at least you’ll be in a position where you can doing something about it. Number three, just as important, remember rule number one. I think we can all agree that an appropriate rule of engagement is peaceful protest, but let’s be clear about something. It is not appropriate to destroy public property, to destroy other people’s property or harass people who are trying to enjoy a meal or a show with their family. And it is just as not appropriate to make fun of or put down people in the public forum. Such acts don’t give anyone an opportunity to defend themselves.”
“My friends, it’s not rocket science,” said Giese. “Together, we can make our country a little bit better for everyone. As long as we don’t forget the sacrifices of the past, we understand what and who the problem really is. We can look forward united to a better future. We are still the land of the free and the home of the brave. God bless you and God bless America.”
Jackson gave the benediction and VFW 4464 Honor Guard held a rifle salute before the ceremony ended.
The Gallia Veterans Service Commission is compromised of Gallia veterans with representatives from AmVets, the DAV, American Legion, VFW and Vietnam Veterans. Commission members include Gary Fendrbosch, President, representative of Vietnam Veterans, Bob McCarley, Vice-President, representative of American Legion, Tom White, Secretary, representative of VFW, Keith Jeffers, representative of DAV and David McCoy, representative of AmVets. In the office along with Thomas are service officers Roger Houck and Jason Danford.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.