On a hot, humid Monday, the Grove City community turned out to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their nation.
The annual Memorial Day parade, sponsored by American Legion Paschall Post 164 and Veterans of Foreign War 8198, made its way through downtown Grove City May 26, stopping for the Memorial Day service at Grove City Cemetery. The event featured remarks from local officials as well as performances by the Central Crossing High School marching band and the combined choirs of Central Crossing and Grove City high schools.
"Today, we gather to honor our heroes -- who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can live in a free country," said state Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). "We must never forget what they've done for us."
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said Memorial Day is a special but somber day.
"We are a very blessed as a nation and a community," Stage said. "We do not want to be in a position of telling our children and grandchildren what freedom was once like."
As the parade's grand marshal, George Love, placed a poppy on the veterans memorial at the Grove City Cemetery, Jeff Shipley, commander of the Grove City American Legion Post, said the tradition recalls World War I and the Battle of Flanders. The nature of conflict left the land where the fighting occurred corrupted and desolate.
"Nothing would grow there except poppies," Shipley said. "Since the end of World War I, that has become a tradition of remembering our veterans, their service and the loss of their lives."
Shipley said 2014 marks a number of anniversaries: the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy; the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I; and 150 years since Arlington National Cemetery was established as a national military burial ground.
Another ceremony took place Memorial Day afternoon.
Every year, the volunteer group Operation Flag selects a different historic cemetery to clean up, and beginning last fall, Operation Flag, working with the NJROTC units of Franklin Heights and Grove City high schools, worked on Scioto Cemetery in Jackson Township, fixing headstones, laying new foundations and making other repairs.
"Some of these little, inactive cemeteries fall into disrepair," said Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa, chairman of Operation Flag. "It's a lot of physical labor."
At 3 p.m. Memorial Day, Operation Flag held a rededication ceremony at the cemetery.
"This has been a great project," Testa said. "It's got a lot of history here."
During the service, the names of 10 Civil War veterans and one Mexican-American War veteran buried in Scioto Cemetery were read aloud as wreaths were placed on their graves. Those honored are William C. Borror, James Corry, Joseph Fleming, Oren Martin, Frank Seeds, Virgil Seeds, Daniel Strader, John M. Strader, Levi T. Strader, Alfred Wilkins and John Mitchell.
"We gather today not to glamorize or promote war but to remember," said Tim Gorrell, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. "Brave men and women defend our country so we can sleep peacefully at night ... Ohio's sons and daughters have always served in America's wars. The call to defend freedom came, and they answered."