BATH TOWNSHIP — Fairborn Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6861 continued an annual tradition as post members hosted a solemn Memorial Day service May 28 at Byron Cemetery.
Post Quartermaster Ken Bowman welcomed all those who attended the service and recognized special guests, including guest speaker, Ohio State Representative, District 73 Rick Perales, Fairborn Mayor Paul Keller, VFW Post 6861 Auxiliary Senior Vice President Pamela Ohrman, American Legion Post 526 Commander Spencer Chaney, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 526 Vice President Cuca Bowen, AMVETS Post 444 Commander David Nill, and Sons of AMVETS Squad 444 Commander Denton Bloom.
Perales, who served as the keynote speaker at the event, began his speech by paying special tribute to the heroic patriots who were willing to lay down their lives in defense of Americans’ freedom and way of life. He then asked all Americans to reflect upon their many blessings.
“When I look around and see the patriots out here, like-minded people that honor our vets who have fallen, it makes me feel very special,” Perales said. “Memorial Day is not about Memorial Day sales, pool openings or barbeques — but it is about honoring our fallen.”
Perales pointed out that Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, originated several years following the Civil War, which claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history. The surviving soldiers from both the North and South honored their fallen comrades by decorating their graves with flags and flowers.
“Our country lost nearly 600,000 soldiers in that war, which is probably half as many soldiers we have lost in the history of this country,” said Perales.
He also read a passage from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and noted that democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people.
“They (republics) are absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for our continued good health. This is why 1.2 million service men and women have died for this constitution that represents our freedom and rights,” Perales said.
Perales asked all those in attendance at the morning service to honor the legacy of our nations’ fallen and those individuals who serve in all branches of our country’s military by educating younger generations about what our fathers and their fathers did to defend and protect our freedoms. He also talked about apathy in our government and encouraged everyone to participate in their communities and become active in local government.
“To keep this republic, everyone must be active and informed,” said Perales.
Perales concluded his speech by reading another passage from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and reminded those present at the service that our veterans have guaranteed our many freedoms throughout the years.
Members of the VFW Post 6861, American Legion Post 526, and AMVETS Post 444 paid their respects to their departed comrades by placing patriotic wreaths at the foot of the flagpole at the cemetery.
The service ended with a three gun salute by the VFW Post 6861 Honor Guard and the playing of taps by VFW Post 6861 Auxiliary Senior Vice President Pamela Ohrman.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.