A solemn and tranquil calmness reigned for the 250 residents who attended Friday’s annual community Veterans Day program at the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans.
The names of 191 former service men and women from the Columbus area who died during the past year were read at the traditional time: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
That’s up from 165 last year and from 156 two years ago, said Ron Shadley, an event committee member who read the names.
While not obvious to most who attended, there was a noticeable decline of World War II veterans on this year’s list of honor, Shadley said.
Story continues below gallery
“We’re seeing an increased number of names of Korean and Vietnam era being read,” he said. “We’re also starting to see some Desert Storm and Desert Shield soldiers.”
There were also more deceased female veterans honored this year — with names read of Carla Bierlein, Elsie Herron, Tamara Taylor and Patricia Wright, Shadley said.
Written for the World War II film “Saving Private Ryan,” John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen” — which had been played in recent ceremonies as the names were read — was replaced this year by a moment of silence.
Although the mayor of Columbus gave some credit to good weather for the strong attendance, Jim Lienhoop also said the conclusion of a tumultuous election year may have created a heightened public interest in country and community.
“The people are here to show their support to the veterans who made Tuesday possible,” State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, said prior to the ceremony.
The 7-member Veterans Day Committee asked to keep program remarks to a minimum this year, Bartholomew County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said after the ceremony.
No speaker was scheduled and Master of Ceremonies John Foster primarily confined his comments to introductions, which gave people more time to get to Mill Race Center for a noon musical tribute to veterans by the Lasting Impressions singing group.
“Veterans Day is always a personal time of reflection, usually regarding someone very close to them, for most of those who come here,” Kleinhenz said.
Virginia Elstrod, who sat with her daughters near the front row, heard the name of her husband read among the 191 who had died since last Veterans Day.
John C. “Jack” Elstrod, a Navy veteran of World War II and a Cummins Inc. retiree, died in early March at age 88.
“I do think he’d be very proud,” Virginia Elstrod said of her husband of 68 years.
The following comparison shows the number of deceased Bartholomew County veterans who were honored after their passing during the six most recent Veterans Day programs in Bartholomew County.