BELLVILLE – Memorial Day and its celebrants sparkled Monday in the Clear Fork Valley.
Veterans from all services, residents and those dedicated to honoring those who serve packed the old cemetery area following a parade led by a military color guard.
The Veterans’ Memorial in the cemetery has been refurbished, and flag poles bearing the banners of the five services were dedicated.
Two F-16 jets did a seconds-long fly over before the service.
Bellville Mayor Teri Brenkus told the crowd it had taken a year to get approval for the jets to do their display. The F-16s are from the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard in Toledo.
Col. Gary McCue of Bellville, the former commander of the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield told the crowd that Bellville is a “military community.” McCue also served with the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.
With the advancements in technology, not as many people are needed in the services, he said. Saying that the numbers of people serving has changed because of that shift. In World War II, the mobilization figure was 12 percent, he said. The military draft ended in the 1970s.
Veterans from the AmVets post and the American Legion were participants in the parade. Two trucks hauled trailers packed with veterans through the parade route.
Harry Welshans, Sr., a veteran of the U. S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, was grand marshal of the parade. Wilbur Streib, who served in World War II in the U.S. Army, was the substitute grand marshal. James Lehnhart, of the U. S Air Force and the Air National Guard, also appeared.
Brenkus said there will be another fly-over by jets at the village’s July 4 celebration.
The veterans’ memorial is circular, with U.S. and MIA flags in the center. Five flags of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Marines are on the perimeter of the circle.
The polishing of the memorial was done “100 percent” by donations, said Brenkus. The AmVets donated the lights, the poles and the flags, she said. The K.E. McCartney engineering firm contributed services, as did Terra Valley excavating, Lexington Concrete, I.B.E.W., Graybar Electric and Liberty Gardens.
Brenkus said one of the Liberty Gardens owners brought his children to help with the plantings around the memorial.
The memorial has its own sound system. Brenkus said it took “lots and lots of wire” to make that service work.
A crew of Bellville workers also helped with the project, she said.
Two bronze plaques will be put in place. One will say “All gave some; some gave all.”
The other will say “They found their way home.”
Those plaques also were donated, Brenkus said.
Welshans, Streib and Lehnhart were introduced. Streib, who is 94, served at the Battle of the Bulge.
Brenkus told the crowd a few things remain to be done to complete the project. The site includes a white metal bench. Brenkus said the old unit is a bit dilapidated, but will be refurbished by someone who is also donating the cost of that work.
Toward the end of the service, the flags for all services were raised. The crowd heard the band from Clear Fork High School play “Anchors Aweigh’” plus other songs written for the services.
There was a quiet, calm end to the service as, on a distant hill, a bagpipe player graced the crowd with “Amazing Grace.”