FREDERICKTOWN — Neither looming clouds, nor rain nor rumbles of thunder in the distance kept Fredericktown residents from honoring servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this country free — the Memorial Day observances went on as scheduled.
Assembling on Public Square, parade participants and spectators stood at attention during the national anthem as Boy Scout Troop 324 first raised, then lowered the Stars and Stripes to half-staff.
A memorial prayer was offered by Pastor Lucian Baker, then village council member Alan Kintner laid a wreath in remembrance of fallen soldiers.
The Fredericktown school band played a medley of service songs as the American Legion Post 500 color guard led the parade down Sandusky Street to Forest Cemetery. The guard was followed by Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Gold Star Mothers and other representatives of military service organizations. There was also a contingent of civilians which included canines and youthful bicycle riders.
The cyclists, 10-year-old Billy Coss, Jusden Young, 10, Cassandra Vaughn, 10 and Preston Coss, 8, had decorated their bikes with red, white and blue streamers and balloons. Asked why, Jusden replied, “We’re riding in a parade for Memorial Day to remember the people who were in wars.”
Bob Vernon, commander of Post 500, American Legion, served as master of ceremonies on the square and at the cemetery.
“America has paid often in blood to advance freedom around the world,” he said. “We are here today to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Hart gave the memorial address. A Vietnam veteran, he has also served in Iraq and other areas. Hart said the United States has accomplished three goals in Iraq — the removal of the Republican Guard as a fighting force, the capture of Saddam Hussein and the creation of a democratic government “for a nation that has always been ruled by a tyrant.”
He explained some of the difficulties involved with accomplishing those goals, and told the audience to “support the troops” and “don’t give up.” Contrasting his return from Vietnam with the reception he received coming back form Iraq, Hart said, “This time you actually said ‘thank you.’ And we are here to thank those who didn’t come back at all.”
Memorial wreaths were presented by Marjorie McMahon, representing Gold Star parents; Richard Huggins, American Legion; Don Walters, Veterans of Foreign Wars; and Nola Vernon, American Legion Auxiliary.
Following the benediction by Pastor Baker, there was a rifle salute and the playing of “Taps.”