Veterans from the Civil War to present day are recognized for their service –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Memorial Day services across Adams County last weekend were held under high sunlit clouds, clear blue skies, and muggy temperatures.
Ceremonies began Saturday with the dedication of a new Veteran’s Memorial Monument at the Evergreen Cemetery near Peebles – the final resting place of 150 veterans. Commissioner Paul Worley was the Master of Ceremonies with the Adams County Honor Guard serving as Color Guard and providing Taps and a three-volley rifle salute.
The featured speaker, Ohio Representative Dr. Terry Johnson, told those assembled, “America was founded in the spirit of liberty. We needed an Army, we needed a Navy, and we needed a Marine Corps to shrug off the tyranny of King George,” he said. “Our military was founded not to conquer or enrich kings, our military was founded to protect liberty, and that’s what it’s always done since the first American put on a uniform. Our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have shed their blood on every continent and every sea to ensure our liberty.”
The effort to erect the monument was led by Korean War veteran, Forrest Smalley and his wife, Naomi.
According to Mrs. Smalley, she and her husband began discussing the idea of a Veterans Monument after attending a Memorial Day service at Locust Grove Cemetery. She credits Meigs Township trustees Paul Baker, Josh Lloyd, and Joe Gardner, as well as Fiscal Officer Carla Wesley with making their idea a reality.
“Before we knew what was happening, Paul Baker went to the Peebles Monument Company and had Steve Ryan draw up the plans,” she said.
Their idea caught on and the community responded with donations, but before the necessary funds were raised, Mr. Smalley’s health began to fail, and he passed away in January of 2015. Before the year’s end, Mrs. Smalley would also lose both her daughter and her mother. She subsequently contributed all the donations made in their memory to the Veterans Monument fund.
“I know Forrest would really have appreciated seeing this monument,” Mrs. Smalley said. “And I’m so thankful to have it here.”
Representative Johnson, who served as a surgeon during the Iraq War, was also instrumental in helping to procure necessary funding for the monument. He spoke about the importance of freedom.
“Our founders ensured there would be freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom to worship as we please without fear of retribution or interference from the government – so that we could have free citizens over the horizon of history to this very day,” he said, “The founding of America not only made us free, but lifted the entire world out of the darkness of oppression. As long as we stand free the world has hope. Never give up on that idea. It’s been bought at too high a cost.”
The dedication ceremony for the new monument was conducted by Gerry Mitchell, Commander of the Thompson-Wallingford American Legion Post in Peebles:
“This memorial is dedicated to those who fell in service to their country, who offered up their lives to preserve justice, freedom and democracy,” he said, adding, “ Those who made the supreme sacrifice are an inspiration to us all. They served America in times of war paying the last full measure of devotion.”
The Thompson-Wallingford Post and the Peebles Lady’s Auxiliary hosted Memorial Day services Sunday at the Locust Grove Cemetery near Peebles. Commissioner Paul Worley was the featured speaker. Family and friends participated in a special ceremony honoring those who died in service to their country including: Andrew Roy Thompson WWI, Gerald Eugene Wallingford WWII, Mike Lorenzo WWII, Bobby D. White WWII, Louis Horner WWII, Ira Glenn Davis – WWII, Harold Ramsey – Korean War, Ralph King – Korean War, Albert King Jr. – Korean War, Noah Douglas Fuller – Korean War, Willard Wallace – Vietnam War, Samuel Arlon Johnson – Vietnam War, Louie McFarland – Vietnam War, Omar Hawkins – Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Lucas Christopher Scott – Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Reverend Phil Fulton gave the invocation, the Adams County Honor Guard presented a three-volley rifle salute, Mark Tolle sang the National Anthem and Commander Gerry Mitchell officiated the ceremony.
A Memorial Service at the Louden Cemetery on Sunday honored the sacrifices of seven fallen soldiers. Lloyd Riley WWI, Battalion C 76th Field Artillery; five Union soldiers killed during the Civil War: Edward Clark – 33rd Ohio Valley Infantry, Alfred Fulton – 1st Ohio Valley Heavy Artillery, Joshua Gore – 13th Ohio Valley Cavalry, James Holliday – 141st Ohio Valley Infantry, and James Ryan – 141st Ohio Valley Infantry; and Colonel M.W. Fulton who died in 1852. The featured speakers were the Reverend Phil Fulton, Chaplain Henry Robertson, Commander Gerry Mitchell – Peebles Post 594, and Tom Stern of Seaman, Ohio who outfitted in the uniform of a Union soldier. Refreshments at the Louden one-room school followed the ceremony.
Services were also held at the Manchester Cemetery on Sunday afternoon and one of the honored guests was Mr. Russell Pollitt, a 90-year old veteran of World War II who took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Interviewed by host of the service Terry Himes, Pollitt told the crowd about being drafted at the age of 18 and “not knowing what it was was all about”. Also introduced to the crowd was Sue Woolard, whose brother James was killed in Vietnam in 1969.
The American flag was raised during the playing of the National Anthem, a 21-gun salute was fired, and “Taps” was played as a final tribute to the fallen soldiers.