Like flowers in Flanders Field, flags at West Lawn Cemetery helped pay tribute to the memory of all veterans when the Newcomerstown Veterans Organizations hosted the annual Memorial Day services Monday, May 25.
Vane Scott Jr., master of ceremonies, quoted the poem, "In Flanders Field," to open the event. The poem was written in World War I by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a doctor in the Canadian Army, about the dead from a battle being buried beneath crosses in a field of poppies in France.
A fly-over by a pair of F-16 jets preceded the march-in by the Newcomerstown color guard and local Scouts, with cadence provided by the Newcomerstown High School band.
Lt. Colonel Harry Kenney, with a 47-year military career, asked the several hundred who attended the event to remember the veterans and the sacrifices they made to defend everyone's freedom.
"It's Memorial Day and yes, it means picnics, parades, families and backyard grilling," Lt. Col. Kenney said. "But let us remember who allowed us to continue to do this. Let us never forget the men and women who are out there giving up their today, and so much more, so you and I can continue to choose how we live."
He thanked the many people who came to West Lawn Cemetery, saying their presence helped honor the military personnel, both alive and dead.
Chelsea Bradford, daughter of Frank and Terrie Bradford and a graduating senior at Newcomerstown High School, was the student speaker, bringing her own experiences into her speech.
"I have a grandfather who served in World War II," she said. "He lies in the first row, second grave. His wife displayed his flag with all its pride and glory until her final breaths. I believe every veteran should be honored as my grandfather was. Unfortunately, some of our veterans were not always honored in the way they should have been ... many watched their friends, brothers and comrades die in the fields of war and will never forget what they witnessed ... many of those veterans are here today and need to know their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed."
Bradford also talked about being in the fifth grade class of Rita Lahmers when hearing about the tragedy of 9/11 and the World Trade Center. Later in life, she said, "I knew that 9/11 would be a forever changing force for the rest of my life ... I was watching my brother's friends graduate high school and head off to become a man in war ... Some of them left as the lovable ornery boys they were and came back humbled and somber young men. There is something about war, watching a man die, or killing a man, that changes a person. But just as every good soldier has done in the past and continues to do today, they pulled together and overcame the devastating and dehabilitating effects of war."
The annual Memorial Day program was sponsored by American Legion Post 431, Veterans of Foreign Wars 3303 and Vietnam Veterans Roger Dale Lewis Chapter 532.
The Newcomerstown High School band, under the direction of Karen Little, played the "Star Spangled Banner" and another patriotic selection, in addition to the playing of "Taps" at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The Rev. Stan Winters provided the invocation and benediction.