Dedication day as reported in,
Community Life Quarterly
An overcast Saturday morning, September 20 in downtown New Straitsville provided an appropriate setting for reflection for the over 300 persons who gathered at the corner of Clark and Main Streets for the dedication of New Straitsville and Coal Township's first ever veteran's memorial monument. Although the accomplishment of erecting the impressive granite memorial was cause for joyous celebration, the tone was somber in remembrance of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom that Americans enjoy today.
America. This is what this day is about, I realized after the emotion of the program began to take hold. This is what my father and countless others had fought for in World War II. What a patch work quilt this country is, I thought as I often was distracted by the vehicles and their passengers passing through the ceremony on St. Rt. 216. As I watched from my vantage point in the crowd across the street from the monument I saw tourists in late model luxury cars follow struggling families in mufflerless transport. These images, mixed with the dedication program, drew my thoughts to this country's remarkable story. How seldom I reflect upon being an American.
The day began with a calm but emotion filled invocation by village native Father Don Maroon and an equally stirring welcome by his brother Joe Maroon who spearheaded the effort to build the memorial. The tone was set. Next up, County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Flautt congratulated the group for their accomplishment, admitting his doubts about the memorial's feasibility when Maroon first contacted him to help with the legal needs of the project.
Presentation of flags preceded the unveiling of the monument. Tim Dunk1e presented an American flag for the center pole on the monument to Fred Devol, the village's oldest living veteran in honor of his deceased father Warren Dunkle, a World War II vet. Postmaster Linda Paker, presented another American flag for the large village pole at the intersection to Roger Gill in memory of his deceased father Gene Gill, also a veteran. Diane and Carol Dodson of Aardvark Productions presented a P.O.W./M.I.A. flag to veteran Paul "Boulis" Hatem and State Representative Larry Householder presented an Ohio flag to Viet Nam veteran Dave Beattie.
The monument was then dedicated by Mayor Stanley Wilt, a veteran himself. It was unveiled by members of the New Straitsville Memorial Association: Connie Dunkle, Georgia Nixon, Wallene Williams, Kathy Gill and Joe Maroon, who later said that his mother, Memorial Association member Rose Maroon who died this summer, was also there with them in spirit at the unveiling. Then the crystal clear voice of Martha Norris sent chills through my and 300 plus other people's spines by singing the Star Spangled Banner in a stirring fashion as the monument's flags were raised by Devol, Gill, Hatem and Beattie. A 21 gun salute by the Green Beret Guard of Logan DAV/VFW added to the somberness of the event as did the leading of the Pledge of Allegiance by members of the New Lexington American Legion. Village native and Veterans Administration official Art Sprankle read the Veterans prayer and the Rev. Joe Blosser addressed the crowd. And then, as if by magic, traffic disappeared on Rt. 216 providing a poignant silence as taps were played by veteran and former resident Bill Lanning and then echoed from behind the Methodist Church by trumpeter Connie Colvin. Memorial Committee leader Maroon closed the day by telling the crowd how the project was an expression of love, not just for veterans, but for the community.
It was impossible not to be touched by this ceremony. There were so many images that told the story. Several elderly people near me in the crowd were crying as taps were played. I knew their memories of war and loss were far more personal than my own. I watched World War II veteran Boulis Hatem, whose Lebanese ancestors came to this country and settled in New Straitsville, salute the flag in full uniform as it was raised by the spirited Fred Devol. Seeing friend Tim Dunkle stand proudly as the flags were raised, knowing how many times his father Warren had raised American flags on the streets of the village before his death was yet another vivid reminder of the importance of this act. "All gave some, some gave all," the words inscribed on the left panel monument captured the mood. A time for respect, memories, and reflection.
At the Lions Club building after the ceremony the mood turned festive as old friends greeted one another, reminisced and gave praise to the Memorial Association members for their hard work. 100 plus persons who came to the free public luncheon after the ceremony were greeted by a huge table of "carried in" food-further evidence of the capacity the New Straitsville Memorial committee to organize such a project.