“This day is sacred with the invisible presence of those who have gone before us.”
Robert Smith, Post 460 Commander
CENTERBURG — The tears of heaven ceased as Centerburg residents gathered to remember the men and women who have served their country in the armed forces.
“Those of us who are still breathing cannot repay the sacrifice of those who gave their lives defending us, but at the very least, we can and we must remember them,” said Dennis Clausing, 1st Vice Commander of the American Legion in Ohio.
Clausing cited the example of Maj. Charles Loring, U.S. Air Force, a POW in Europe during World War II who also served in the Korean “War as an F-80 pilot. On Nov. 22, 1952, Loring made the decision to dive-bomb his F-80 into an enemy gun position, eliminating the threat to other pilots and ground forces.
He also cited the example of Marine Maj. Megan McClung, a public affairs officer who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq while escorting members of the media.
Memorial Day, said Clausing, is for men and women like Loring and McClung.
“Sadly, none of the more than 1 million men and women who have died in service to this nation in wars and conflicts since 1775 can be replaced,” he said. “All left a nation that is in their debt.
“Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough,” he continued. “We must continue the legacy for which they died: The causes of democracy, decency and patriotism.”
“While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we should not forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon — the young men and women still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States and in more than 130 foreign lands. We must continue to bear witness for those who never returned from the deserts of the Middle East, the jungles of Vietnam, the 'forgotten war' in Korea, the islands in the Pacific and the European continent.”
Clausing said Martin Luther King could have been describing American military missions when he wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“So today, on this most sacred day, we pause to reflect on what has been given and sacrificed. Let us never forget,” said Clausing. “But let us also remember what resulted from these sacrifices. Let us remember the terrorist plots that were foiled and the killers that have been brought to justice because Americans were willing to pay the price. Let us remember the ugly regimes that were stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb.
“Freedom is not a gift. It is an earned benefit that was paid for by the blood of our heroes. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, the sacrifices and caliber of America's fighting men and women have been nothing short of inspirational.”
Mark Shepherd of Centerburg was one of those who came to honor America’s veterans, despite the threat of bad weather.
“The soldiers slept and fought in the rain,” he said. “The least we can do is stand out in it for an hour.”
Shepherd said he was honoring his father, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam era; his uncle, who was in the Army; and his cousin, who is now serving in Iraq.
Centerburg Mayor George Shaw, a Vietnam veteran, placed a memorial wreath, as did members of Boy Scout Troop 382.
The traditional rifle salute and playing of “Taps” were performed.