By Jim Nowlan
The haunting crack of rifle fire echoing off cemetery headstones, and the young corn, just leafy enough in softly-rolling nearby fields to wave in the gentle breeze. These were a couple of rewarding take-aways from a Monday morning devoted to offering solemn remembrance at area cemeteries to veterans who gave their lives so that our freedoms might endure.
American Legion post members in Bradford, Wyoming, Toulon and Princeville—and thousands of other communities across America—paid homage to fallen comrades this Memorial Day, as we have been doing for 150 years.
As I looked around to my fellow post members as we gathered at the Toulon Legion early Monday, I was reminded of a speech before the U.S. Congress by General Douglas MacArthur, who recited the refrain from an old barracks-room ballad: “Old soldiers never die, we just fade away.”
As so it is at our veterans’ organization posts. Toulon Legion commander Doug Murray reminded us that, as members fade away, we must now work with neighboring posts to come up with enough veterans to conduct burial rituals. I am 76, yet I was among the younger of the veterans gathered Monday.
Just as fraternal and service club numbers continue dropping, so it is with veterans’ groups. Younger folks gather with those who share their experiences and values, but they often do it via the internet, which makes it easy to find those with similar interests.
So before local veterans’ posts fade away, or consolidate with neighboring posts, let me note those who served Monday to honor their fellow veterans:
Bradford American Legion Post 445: Dean Waldinger, commander; Dewey Newell, Tom McMahill, Eric Reay, Tim Young, Jim Eble, and Tom Ryan and Henry Waldinger.
Wyoming American Legion Post 91: Dave Bickett, commander; Bob King, Keith Ratcliff, Dan O’Neill, Dan Krans, Pat Foglesonger, Bill Cox, Tim Colgan, Randy Krans, Mike Breese, Bill Breese, and Bill Conover. Rev. Joe Hamilton, speaker.
Toulon American Legion Post 416: Doug Murray, commander; Art Whittaker, Ron Wallace, Andy Jackson, Harold Ely, Howard Adams, Bill Loane, Gene Vershaw, Al Curry, Wes Wilkinson, Willard Price, Tim Montooth, and Joe Tracy.
The Princeville American Legion and VFW posts saluted those buried at the Sheets Cemetery, the oldest in Stark County, located on the Phil StJohn farm. Dave Sutherland is commander of the Princeville Legion post.
Boy Scout troops participated as well at several of the cemetery services.
Well done, all.
By Jim Nowlan