CIRCLEVILLE — Pickaway County veterans were honored Sunday with an appreciation dinner and program to thank them for their service.
The event is organized by AMVETS with donations from the other military service organizations and featured a free meal, music from the Logan Elm High School Choir, a missing man table ceremony to honor prisoners of war and missing in action members of the service, and a speech by Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy.
Four members of the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, who are also veterans, presented the colors — Deputy Clark Kreager, Corporal Levi Freeman, Lieutenant Chis Hempstead and Deputy Jason Park. Park served in the Army and Kreager, Freeman and Hempstead served in the Marine Corps.
McIlroy spoke about the history of Veterans Day, what it means to be a veteran, and called to action.
“They fought to protect our country and to maintain our way of life,” McIlroy stated. “Honor, courage, dedication. These are just a few words we use to describe our veterans. These are individuals who never failed to answer the call.”
McIlroy spoke about Hollywood and specifically the HBO mini series Band of Brothers, saying “they have a vision of what wars are.”
“When you meet another veteran you have a bond,” he added. “You have something that you can talk about.
You don’t talk about what you did in the war or the service, what you talk about is each other. You ask how is your life, how are you doing and how I can help you? It’s a band of brothers.”
McIlroy spoke about how the organization for the escort for the Eyes of Freedom memorial, which visited Circleville during the Pumpkin Show, came about and what that said about veterans.
“There were no calls, no texts and no emails that said we need your help to escort the memorial, it was all word of mouth,” McIlroy continued. “The escort started at the casino on U.S. 23. When the first escorts reached Pickaway County they were still lined up at the casino. There were 360 motorcycles came in the escort to honor these folks, 40 vehicles were there. Nobody had to say we need you. They heard the need and they came because they wanted to do so.”
McIlroy said America is the greatest country on earth thanks to the veterans.
“You can do, say and protest all you want because of the freedom of choice that has been granted to us,” he commented. “Don’t forget why you get this freedom. This is why we are here today and why we gather to honor our veterans. The few who are so willing to give of themselves and defend their brothers, sisters and of course their country. We must never forget to say thank you, we remember you and we are grateful to you.”
Ed Allshouse, one of the organizers, said the reason they do the event is to bring veterans out of their homes.
“So many veterans as we get older, we go home and we stay there,” Allshouse said. “We don’t get out and do the interactions with veterans as much, especially when we were younger. For a lot of these men and women this is the first time in months they’ve talked to another veteran or seen old friends.”
Allshouse said there aren’t very many WWII and Korean War veterans left.
“This is one of our last chances to be able to honor them,” he added.
Allshouse told the veterans during the ceremony, “We’re here to celebrate you and your comrades in arms.”