On Memorial Day in Port Clinton Sgt. Jason Thomas’s memorable telling of his acts and decisions at the World Trade Center tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001, elegantly honored the essence of Memorial Day. Those gathered in Monday’s cool mist included those who had served, those who had lost loved ones, Americans and Canadians, young and old, all who heard Thomas’s message, learned from his mother: “You are your brother’s keeper. You should never leave your brother behind.” Tears mixed with rain drops on many a cheek at Thomas’s poignant narrative. Tears and rain dissipated, but the message left tracks in memories and hearts.
Placing of wreaths at Veterans Park
The prayers, the readings, the laying of the wreaths at Veteran’s Park, the Port Clinton High School band’s military medley, the phalanx of those in uniforms, the firing squad’s salute, Rosemary Schramm’s lyrical rendering of “O Canada’ all further enriched the ceremonies.
Judge Frederick Hany’s opening remarks reminded all that we were gathered to acknowledge “bravery, courage and commitment. It is a day to honor the ideals which are not just catch words to those who serve. For this, we as a community thank them all.”
Hany introduced Thomas as “one of the most gracious and honorable men I ever met, and his family, equally so,” and thanked Thomas for spending his Memorial Day in Port Clinton. Thomas thanked “all those who fell, those who gave lives for this great county,” and again reminding all those gathered, “If you ever see anyone who needs help, I encourage you to help that person.”
Mr. and Mrs. Jason Thomas with Mamie Rallins (center) and quilt
VFW Commander Richard Ellis introduced Mamie Rallins of Port Clinton, who presented a beautiful hand-made quilt to Thomas. Rallins, a two-time Olympian in the high hurdles and a talented seamstress and embroiderer, this week offered Ellis the donation of the quilt for a VFW a fund-raiser. Ellis thought it even better to make the quilt a gift to Thomas, who was touched and honored by the gift.
After the ceremonies, while waiting to meet Thomas, Amber Waite, PCHS senior band member, approached a wheel-chair bound veteran who was sitting alone near where Thomas was surrounded by admirers and greeters. She leaned down, shook the veteran’s hand and said simply, “thank you for your service.” It was a simple act, yet the essence of the day.