Grove City's annual Memorial Day parade and service will recognize veterans from some of the oldest conflicts to the newest.

Gene Kulik, a World War II veteran who will turn 100 on July 2, is scheduled to be a featured participant in the parade, which will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, May 29.

The West Side resident plans to ride in a convertible near the front of the parade with another veteran, Susan Stewart, who works at the Veterans Administration care center in Grove City.

"We were both medics," Kulik said, "except that I served in the European Theater of operation during the second World War and she served in Afghanistan.

"I'll be the oldest veteran in the parade, and she'll be about the youngest," he said.

Kulik was inducted into the U.S. Army on Oct. 20, 1942, and served until Nov. 10, 1945, as a medic with the 554th Engineers.

"Strictly speaking, I was with the medical department of the army, but we went with the engineers wherever they would go," he said. "After D-Day, they built bridges over the Ruhr, Rhine and Weser rivers in Germany" which allowed allied troops to proceed into Germany.

"We should never forget the sacrifice made by thousands of soldiers on D-Day," Kulik said. "There were thousands of casualties in the invasion.

"When (Gen. Dwight D.) Eisenhower made the decision to launch the invasion, knowing the number of young men we was sending to their death, he wept," Kulik said.

Eisenhower is the World War II figure who resonates the most with Kulik.

"We all admired Eisenhower (who was commander of the ETO)," Kulik said. "We were told to wear an Eisenhower jacket. Eisenhower wanted a jacket design that wasn't so much in the military style, but more casual that the men could wear.

"I still have my Eisenhower jacket, and as far as I know, it still fits. I have it in storage and haven't taken it out for a while," he said.

The jacket was developed for the U.S. Army during the later stages of World War II.

After his discharge from the army, Kulik became ordained as a minister in the Assemblies of God Church and served as pastor at churches in his hometown of Canton, Newark and Hubbard, a small town near Youngstown. He finished his career working at the Assemblies of God Ohio headquarters in Ohio, retiring in 1989.

"I want to acknowledge Jesus Christ, who cared for me through all the years I served in World War II and beyond," Kulik said.

The opportunity to participate in Grove City's Memorial Day parade "is a great honor and privilege," he said.

American Legion Paschall Post 164 and Veterans of Foreign Wars 8198 host the parade.

The parade will step off at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 3730 Broadway, and travel south on Broadway to the Grove City Cemetery on Grove City Road.

Other activities

Grove City's holiday weekend also will include the Grove City Community Winds "Concert for American Heroes" from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 26, in the George Edge Music Park at the corner of Park Street and Broadway in the Town Center.

"We're so fortunate in Grove City to have such a wonderful group of musicians like the Community Winds who are able to express the true meaning of the Memorial Day holiday through music," said Kelly Sutherland, recreation supervisor.

The performance will kick off the annual Summer Sizzle Concert Series, which will be held at 7 p.m. each Friday through Aug. 18. The series will not be presented on June 16 or July 28, when special musical performances will be offered as part of Grove City Flags of Honor and the annual Homecoming Celebration, respectively.

The Big Splash pool facility will open for the season at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27.

A new spray pad feature has been added at the zero-depth end of the pool, Sutherland said.

"It has about 30 nozzles, all spraying water at various heights," she said. "Kids will really love it. It's sort of like the sprinkler you might set up on your lawn, except it's a much more complex of a system."

A dedication ceremony for the Boy Scout Troop 412 Memorial Fire Pit will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the Old Concord Cemetery at the intersection of state Route 665 and Hoover Road.

The pit is an Eagle Scout project that Daniel Lauron has coordinated.

The pit will be used annually on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend to retire old and worn U.S. flags.

"We've been holding flag retirement ceremonies over Memorial Day and Veterans Day for the last two years," Lauron said.

"The way we've been doing it is to drag out our troop's grill and properly retire the old flags by burning them.

"The fire pit will be a way for the troop to perform the flag retirement in a more dignified way with a structure dedicated to that ceremony.

"Hopefully the project is something that can benefit the community for years to come," Lauron said.

Management of the fire pit will be turned over to Jackson Township after the ceremony.

Residents are invited to drop off their old flags in donation boxes located at each Jackson Township fire station, the township's administration building and at Grove City Hall.

The public is invited to the dedication ceremony on May 28, Lauron said.

The project has been in the works for at least a year, he said.

"We were looking to build the pit last year, but we had a lot of rainy weather and time constraints that kept us from being able to actually get it done until this spring," Lauron said.

He said he received assistance in the project from Troy Adkins, Bill Payne and Chris Winteroff from Complete Restoration Services. The materials for the 10-foot diameter concrete paid and fire pit were donated by Buckeye Concrete, Deco-Crete and Masons Sand and Gravel.

Friends and other scouts also helped with the project, Lauron said.

Lauron, 17, is going into his senior year at Grove City Christian School. He has been a Boy Scout for five years.

"My time as a scout is coming to an end," he said. "This project is a really satisfying way to bring it all to a close."

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