Mayor’s Stage: On Veterans Day, Grove City still will honor nation’s heroes

Richard "Ike" Stage
Grove City

In 2017, I stood silent at the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial near Belgium, looking over a seemingly endless field of white crosses etched with the names of 5,317 American soldiers who had lost their lives during World War II. It is the final resting place of heroes who had sacrificed everything as part of America’s support in freeing Holland from the clutches of Nazi control.

Prior to my visit to that sacred ground, I took part in a ceremony dedicating a monument to a group of U.S. soldiers whose plane went down in Wilhelminadorp, a small village in the Dutch province of Zeeland, during a mission to thwart enemy maneuvers. Among the crew of 10 were those who had lost their lives (including Grove City native Tech. Sgt. Ernest M. Trickett) and those who had become prisoners of war, some of whom were eventually released.

Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage

What struck me most about my visit and the ceremony is how humble and appreciative the citizens of our allies remain. More than 75 years later, they continue to pay homage to U.S. and other Allies of World War II soldiers who had battled on their behalf and either lost their lives or returned home to their families. They share stories with the younger generations, of the heroes who liberated them, ensuring their sacrifices are never forgotten.

It reminds me of ceremonies we hold in the U.S. – Grove City in particular – honoring our veterans and their families. On Memorial Day and Gold Star Mothers and Families Day, we remember and pay tribute to those who have given their lives for our country and the families they’ve left behind. On Purple Heart Day, we recognize those injured in battle.

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On Veterans Day, we honor those who served our country in war or peace, in battle or behind the scenes, alive and fallen. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was signed, ending World War I. Nov. 11, originally known as Armistice Day, is now the day each year we take the opportunity to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifices.

This year’s health crisis has complicated our ability to honor the veterans of Grove City in a way we are accustomed, yet it has not halted our efforts completely. A small ceremony is planned for Nov. 11 at the Purple Heart Memorial Walk in Henceroth Park. Great thanks to the American Legion Paschall Post 164 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 519 for their part in keeping traditions alive as much as possible. Stop by the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to view a veterans display. Please wear a mask and follow socialdistancing protocols.

Because we cannot all gather together, I encourage you to take part in the many other ways available to honor our veterans, including a few easy things you can do on a regular basis to show your appreciation and support.

Fly the American Flag. I have heard it said, those in the military consider the American flag to be a symbol of a living soul and part of the military family. Simply displaying your flag properly and respectfully will share your appreciation.

Ask a veteran about his or her service. I’ve learned many veterans welcome opportunities to share stories of their time serving our country. Sometimes just asking the question will light their hearts, and all you need to do is give them your full attention.

Say thank you to a veteran. Most of us have encountered a veteran or current soldier in our daily lives, and I know many of us have said, “Thank you for your service.” Keep it up. Look him or her in the eyes and express your true appreciation for the sacrifice of not only serving but leaving a family behind while doing so.

Take time this Veterans Day to remember and honor all who have protected us and our country and those who still are protecting us today.

Richard “Ike” Stage is Grove City’s mayor.