GALLIPOLIS — Residents of Gallia gathered during the weekend to remember the sacrifices of American military service men and women throughout US history.
Sunday, First Baptist Church held a special Memorial Day service with John LeBlanc of Cedarville University speaking on the importance of remembering those who served and what it has meant to families affected by sacrifice.
Monday morning, members of VFW Honor Guard 4464 and Cadot-Blessing Camp 126 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War gathered in Gallipolis Pine Street Cemetery to remember two veterans from the American Civil War, Gallia’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Samuel McElhinny, and a Union POW, John Robert Duncan, who survived the hostile environment of the Andersonville Confederate POW Camp. Duncan descendant David North was present for the ceremony and to share brief stories about his grandfather.
Area residents gathered for the annual Gallia Memorial Day Parade along Second Avenue in Gallipolis before meeting in Gallipolis City Park by the Spirit of the American Doughboy Memorial to listen to soon to be inducted Ohio VFW State Commander and retired Lt. Col. Dan Faulkner.
“Memorial Day is our most somber of patriotic holidays, recognizing those who have served our nation,” said Faulkner. “In quiet services across our country today, we come together as a nation to remember those no longer with us who served in war and lost their lives in the clash of battle. This Memorial Day, we come together to appreciate the freedom that we enjoy and honor the sacrifices that paid for it. As we enjoy living in the land of the free and the home of the brave we must continue to remind Americans there is no freedom without bravery, and those we honor today were brave when it counted the most. Simply put, we are the land of the free because of the brave.”
“Amid the war-torn decades we’ve endured, we can take great pride in these heroes, these men and women who believed they were just doing their duty,” continued Faulkner. “They had the strength when the situation demanded it, the determination when everything felt lost and devotion, courage and patriotism when others looked at them for guidance. No one ordered them to practice these most basic human ideals. They did because they were Americans. Because we believe in a nation worth defending.”
Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services and retired US Army Major General Deborah Ashenhurst visited Gallipolis for the day and shared some words with the crowd.
“This is what people think of when they come to the United States and when they’re going to have the opportunity to see this great nation of ours,” said Ashenhurst. “This what they think of, the home town parades, the flag-lined streets and everyone gathering in the central park to share the moment. When I woke up this morning, I’ve had a whole weekend of opportunities to enjoy and participate in ceremonies and events, my head was filled with these cliches. Freedom isn’t free. The cost of freedom. All gave some, some gave all. I like the one you just gave me Lt. Col. Faulkner. Live the country they died for. And although it seems cliche, I have to say it’s really what’s in my heart. Today is about honoring and remembering. It’s not about mattress or car sales.”
Ashenhurst would attend a lunch hosted by the VFW Post 4464 on Third Avenue with area dignitaries after the City Park ceremony. Steve Evans, Rebecca Evans and Amy DiSantis were honored at the event for their ongoing support of veteran issues. City Commissioner Tony Gallagher read a proclamation recognizing Ashenhurst for her visit and support of veteran issues.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.