Memorial Day returned to its robust roots on Monday at Veterans Park in Port Clinton, as patriotism and pride returned after two years of a pandemic that shuttered celebrations across Port Clinton, Ottawa County, Ohio and the country.
“As we observe Memorial Day, we do more than carry on a tradition that dates back to 1866,” said Keynote Speaker Ron Distel, a Vietnam Veteran who has served on the Ottawa County Veterans Service Commission for more than a decade. “We also fulfill a commitment to some very special people as we pause to honor and praise these individuals that were ordinary human beings, just like you and me.
“But what they accomplished was extraordinary. They answered the Call to Duty, they gave us today . . . tomorrow . . . and the tomorrow’s of our future.”
Throughout America’s history, from the Patriots who fired the first shots in the Revolutionary War to the forces deployed around the world today, America has been fortunate to rely on our citizens willing to serve, to fight and, if necessary to die for their country, said Distel.
“It is not for the money, or the medals that heroes like them stepped forward. It is, however, their patriotism that is based on the ideals on which this country was founded. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.”
Counting the 6,824 who died run the American Revolution, and up to more than one million Americans have died in defense of our country, these defenders of freedom sacrificed everything to give us the world we are blessed to enjoy today, said Distel.
“Just think for a moment what our country would be like had they not fought for us,” said Distel. “It’s because of them, more people are enjoying freedom and liberty than ever before in the history of the world. It is the veteran who paid the high price to get us to this point.
“This Memorial Day we honor all those ordinary people who ascended to the extraordinary by picking up the tools of war in the name of freedom. Some of our warriors died in combat. Others from wounds afterward and others, after a time of living in peace they had fought so hard to win only to be taken from us as a result of their efforts in keeping this land safe and free.
So this Memorial Day, we come face to face with the cost in human lives of the battles that brought us here today.
“Our sorrow over those lost will never die. We carry it with us constantly. But if we remember them only in sorrow, then we do them a disservice. They gave us a rare opportunity to live in freedom and we must make good use of that opportunity.
“Today we are honoring the dead by helping the living, and that is always the goal of all veterans. Those that we honor today will not have died in vain.
“Not in this great country, and not on our watch.”
Port Clinton always puts on the best service. I would have been there if I was still living up there.