POMEROY — With the Flag raised to half mast, members of the Drew Webster American Legion and Auxiliary Post 39 began their Memorial Day services along the river in Pomeroy.
Steve VanMeter accepted the role of emcee in the absence of Commander John Hood, and Dan Arnold filled the role of Post Chaplin for Jerry Frederick, both of whom are recovering from surgery.
Following the invocation, JoAnn Newsome continued the tradition of reading “Flanders Field” that was begun by Gladys Cumings , who passed away last year. The poem was written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, and references red poppies that grew over the graves of soldiers in Europe. This resulted in the poppy becoming a symbol of soldiers who died in conflict.
Chief Petty Officer Doug Dixon was the keynote speaker. Dixon, a 30-year Navy veteran, currently heads the Meigs County Veterans Service Office in Middleport.
He began by thanking fellow veterans in attendance, and “those who are not with us today.”
In reviewing the history and meaning of Memorial Day, a tradition that began as Decoration Day following the Civil War, Dixon reminded everyone that “the day is meant to honor and ‘decorate’ the graves of those who have died in military service. A day that began as a day to honor the fallen in our Civil War now extends to all who have served.”
“It has become a day set aside to honor all veterans,” Dixon said. “It is a time for everyone to remember the sacrifices that were made not only by those who served, but by their families.”
He reminded the crowd that when a loved one serves, sacrifices are made by not only by those who serve, but their families as well.
“Families make sacrifices, and we need to honor them as well as honoring our veterans,” he said in closing.
As the Post was called to arms, a red, white, and blue wreath was placed in the Ohio River in honor those lost at sea. A gun salute and the playing of taps followed.
The Southern Local Marching Band, under the direction of Audra Wilkinson played several pieces during the ceremonies, including the Star-Spangled Banner and a tribute to the four branches of the military.
In closing, Dan Arnold recited a tribute to the Flag:
“We direct your attention to the Flag of our beloved country. It is always displayed where it is accorded the position of highest honor. It is a constant inspiration to every lover of his country. It demands unswerving loyalty and whole-hearted devotion to the principles of which it is the glorious representative. It is the majestic symbol of Freedom under Constitutional government. Beneath its protecting folds Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity have become the heritage of every citizen, while the oppressed of many nations have found peace and happiness in the land over which it floats. The flags of mighty empires have come and gone, but the Stars and Stripes remain. Alone of all flags it expresses the sovereignty of the people which endures when all else passes away. Speaking with their voice it has the sanctity of revelation. He who lives under it and is loyal to it, is loyal to truth and justice by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Following the Benediction, the Flag was lowered, and then raised to full staff at noon as is customary on Memorial Day.
Post 39 then had lunch before continuing with observances in multiple cemeteries in the area.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.