After Saturday graduations inspired hope for the future, a 500-mile race Sunday that stirred excitement in the present, homage was paid Monday morning to the past.
In a solemn remembrance that once was called “Decoration Day” after the Civil War, more than 90 people gathered southwest of the courthouse for the annual Columbus and Bartholomew County Community Memorial Day service.
“Today, we look back in duty to remember those who served with valor, who gave everything for us,” Columbus Police Chaplain Al White said during the opening prayer.
While the event evoked thoughts of a beloved parent, sibling, child, or friend in some, others reflected back on memories of fallen brothers-in-arms during the observance.
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Before, during and after the ceremony, several people spoke passionately with words like “freedom,” “patriotism” and “ultimate sacrifice.” But many preferred not to speak at all.
That is especially true for those who can’t help but ponder why they survived — and others did not. There simply are no words to describe the deep-rooted scars of war they hold inside, some veterans said.
A special tribute called “Vietnam Remembrances” paid tribute to those killed during the conflict in southeast Asia.
As appropriate music played under their voices, Mark Pillar and Zack Ellison recounted stories and remembrances of 27 local residents who died during different stages of that conflict.
The first was John A. Barlow, a 1956 Columbus High School graduate who died in a motor vehicle crash three years later. The last was Max A. Mouser, who died of natural causes in 1975 while stationed in Italy.
Special recognition also was given to the descendants of a local solider who died of pneumonia during the Philippine-American War, which took place between 1899 and 1902).
The name of Edward Hunter, who was the first Bartholomew County resident to die in that conflict 106 years ago, is the most recently inscribed name at the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans.
During several events that took place Memorial Day weekend, topics of conversation often could be overheard ranging from President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Hiroshima to vocalist Kate Hamilton’s politically based decision to not perform at Friday’s Salute! concert in downtown Columbus.
Master of ceremonies John Foster said he believed those touchy subjects were especially appropriate for the occasion.
“We may not always get along and just agree to disagree, but that’s what makes this country so wonderful,” Foster said. “It’s never been lost on me that freedom of speech, as well as the press and religion, was provided by men and women who gave their lives.”
The annual Memorial Day service at the Bartholomew County Veterans Memorial was one of three observances held in Columbus Monday.
- At 9 a.m., wreaths were tossed into the East Fork White River from the Robert N. Stewart Bridge by auxiliaries of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. This observance is specifically done for those who lost their lives at sea.
- At 10 a.m. a graveside ceremony took place in the veterans section of Garland Brook Cemetery that was overseen by the local AMVETS chapter.
Meanwhile, eight observances were conducted at northeast Bartholomew County cemeteries in or near Hope, Old St. Louis, Hartsville and Newbern. These services were conducted by Hope American Legion Post 229, in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 543.
The lives of 27 Bartholomew County residents or natives who died while enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War era were recalled Monday during the annual Columbus and Bartholomew County Community Memorial Day Service:
John A. Barlow, 20
Ralph L. Denny, 21; Marvin Eugene Monroe, 20.
Jeffrey Michael Gossett, 22; David W. Schleuhuser, 24.
Robert Barkes, 22; Jerry Wayne Downs, 21; Donald Harrison, 21.
John Robert Arrington, 19; Albert L. Campfield, 20; Charles Dennis Chomel, 19; Clarence Leroy Palmer, 37.
Donald Dean Alvis, 22; James Eugene Brewer, 25; Steven Burton, 20; Franklin Roosevelt Dulong, 34; William Earl Hale, 19; Bruce Randall Harris, 19; Gregory Charles Weisner, 21.
Robert Dean Cody, 24; Robert Wayne Hayes, 34; Charles R. Leming, 23; Joseph Dean Macy, 20; Gary Lynn Pace, 23.
James Robert Hunt, 29
Steven Charles Epperson, 27
Max A. Mouser, 33