BG remembers its war dead on Memorial Day

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Greg Robinette, a retired Army colonel, said raising flags and flowers on Memorial Day is a fitting way to honor those who died in the nation’s wars.

People also need to do more.

Robinette was the marshal of the Memorial Day parade in Bowling Green Monday and delivered the keynote address.

Heather Sekerak talks with Silverio Gonzalez, a 94-year-old veteran of World War II, who participated in Memorial Day ceremonies.

“We must be engaged in preserving freedom,” Robinette said in the ceremonies at Oak Grove Cemetery. “We cannot let it be eroded either by apathy or activism or else they would have died in vain.”

The best way to honor “the sacrifice by our fallen heroes is by living the freedom they have secured for us.”

That can be as simple as voting. It can mean volunteering at churches and schools, to share the history of our country, “and the positive impact hit’s had around the world.”

And, he added, “we can pray every day that brave and patriotic women and men will continue to accept the challenge of wearing a military uniform.”

More than a million men and women from the American Revolution to Army Green Beret Mark De Alencar, who died fighting in Afghanistan in April, have been killed in the nation’s wars.

The war on terrorism, Robinette warned, will not have the clear conclusion of a treaty that other wars have had. Peace may elude the country, and continue for years.

The Bobcat Band runs through the National Anthem before the start of the Memorial Day parade.

The commemoration started under blue skies with temperatures in the 70s with a parade that moved from outside the post office on Washington Street, down Main Street, then up Court and onto the Oak Grove Cemetery.

Wreaths were placed at the war memorial on the grounds of the Wood County Courthouse.

Music was provided by the Bowling Green High School band, and by young vocalist Evie Van Vorhis, who sang “America the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry fired salute volleys in front of the Cla-Zel, at the court house, and finally at the conclusion of the ceremony at Oak Grove.

The unit’s presence was one of several reminders of the holiday’s roots in the Civil War.

Former city administrator and veteran John Fawcett read General Logan’s Order, the directive by General John A. Logan to establish a day to remember those “who died in the late Rebellion.” Also, Mayor Dick Edwards read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Not everyone was comfortable with the tone of the day, or current attitudes toward the military. Bruce Jeffers, a member of city council, carried a verse by Wilfred Owen in his pocket.

The poet, who died in World War I, wrote in his poem depicting death by mustard gas, “Dulce et Decorum,” that it is a lie to tell “children, ardent for some desperate glory” that it is sweet and proper to die” for their country.

Jeffers said he was no pacifist, but as a teacher he’s concerned about the way the military is being glorified to the young. “War,” he said, “sucks.” Memorial Day should be one of mourning those who have been its victims, not celebrating war itself.

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