NEW CASTLE —
No service is meaningless.
And none should be forgotten.
Those were the themes yesterday at the annual Croton Honor Roll ceremony.
The memorial, the Rev. David Bell pointed out, bears the names of 505 Croton area residents who served in World War II. Fourteen of those did not come back, the Marine veteran of Vietnam War noted, but “not one name on that monument is any more important, or any less important, than any other.”
“Each one represents a gift of service to his own people.”
Bell, pastor of First United Brethren Church, noted that when he talks to veterans and asks them about their experience, he often hears “Oh, I was just ...,” which they finish with some sort of noncombat or support role.
“The majority of those who have served never had the opportunity to do something that we might call heroic,” Bell said. “They offered their lives, but they escaped without having to give them. They live in the shadow of those who were killed, feeling like they didn’t give enough.
“But if not for them, the rest would not have been able to do anything. Without the food they provided, others could not have done anything. Without the fuel or vehicles they provided, others would not have been able to do anything. We served together.”
The Rev. Bill Schafer, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, followed Bell by emphasizing the importance of memorials, such as the one at which yesterday’s service took place.
“This is not only to remember those who served in World War II, but also all members of the armed services, past, present and future,” he said. “We all stood together; we all took the same oath.”
Memorials such as the Croton Honor Roll, he went on, exist “to tell a story and to show significance from generation to generation.”
Schafer lamented a one-time memorial on East Washington Street, erected in 1943 by a group that is no longer around. Grass and weeds have overtaken the site, he said, and at some point, vandals took the plaque listing the names of the people the memorial honored, leaving only a stone.
“We need to preserve, protect, respect and appreciate the value that our memorials pass from generation to generation,” Schafter said. “When we lose that value, we lose our way, we lose our purpose, and our sense of why we’re here and how we got here.”
The pastor of Dewey Avenue Holiness Church called the cross and the Bible memorials as well, noting that “it’s a historical fact that the United States of America is the only country in the world established on the principles of the Holy Bible,” and lamenting that “that fact has been wiped out of our schools.”
“This memorial,” he said, noting the honor roll, “not only remembers the men and women who fought for their country, but also the faith that they took with them. It is our faith that makes us strong and gives us courage to go on. But our generation is not taught who we are, and where we came from.”
Yesterday’s service also included music from members of the Red Coat Band, the singing of “God Bless America” by Joy Rodgers Croach, the presentation of wreaths, a roll call of honor and a rifle salute by the New Castle Honor Guard.
The Lawrence County Veterans Council is next up to salute those who have served, with a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. May 26 at the courthouse.
(To view a photo gallery from the event, CLICK HERE.)
NEW CASTLE —
No service is meaningless.
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