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Local Citizens Join Together to Honor Military Members on Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

05/31/11  Many Marshall County residents joined with Americans all over the nation on Memorial Day to honor those past and present who served or are serving in military service.

Master Chief Navy Retired Steven Beam, speaking at a ceremony at Oak Hill Cemetery, echoed the sentiments of those gathered, saying, “Today is our day to say thank you.”

Referring to members of the military, Beam said, “Regardless of race, creed, or color (of military members) – what is important, they are Americans.” He added, “They sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedom.”

“In today’s times, freedom comes cloaked in uncertainly.” said Beam.

Rev. Rose Woodke spoke briefly at services at the Tyner Cemetery. Reading from a piece by Major Kelly Storm, Woodke said, “No freedom isn’t free.” Woodke said, “There is no love greater than those that give their lives for another.” “Help us to be worthy of their sacrifice.” she said.

The Tyner services followed a parade organized by Harry Eskridge and members of the Marshall County 4-H Drill Team. The Drill Team presented the colors for the ceremony.

Members of the American Legion Post 27, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) presented colors, gun salutes and played “Taps” at three ceremonies in Plymouth.

At 10:00 A.M. in front of the Veteran’s Memorial on the Marshall County Court House lawn, Duane Arndt, special assistant to Congressman Joe Donnelly, presented an American flag to DAV commander Bud Ross. The flag had been flown in the nation’s capital on May 10 of this year in honor of Hoosiers who lost their lives serving in the military. The flag was then attached to a flag pole and raised by National Guard members E-4 Stephanie Yates and E-6 Shawn Gibbs.

A wreath was placed in front of the memorial for those lost in various wars.

Marshall County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer presented Veteran Service Officer Josh Wakeland with a Letter of Appreciation for his dedication and work to make significant improvements to the Veterans Memorial at the southeast corner of the Court House.

Putting a face on the names of Indiana soldiers, Arndt read the names of Army Sgt. Marvin Calhoun who died in Afghanistan in September of 2010, Army Specialist Justin Showcraft who had served for two years before loosing his life in Afghanistan and Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Keith McAnich who also perished in Afghanistan in October of 2010.

Arndt said, “I thank all Hoosiers currently serving for your selfless service to our country.”

A second ceremony took place at the bridge above the Yellow River on Michigan Street. A wreath was tossed into the water to honor and remember those who lost their lives serving their country at sea.

In addition to Beam, Father William Kummer, and Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter shared their personal stories of those that were dear to them. Father Kummer said, “I remember Steven who died in that rice field. I remember when we played together in the school yard.” Speaking of all lost veterans, Father Kummer said, “They gave their lives for our security and our peace.”

Senter read from memoirs written by his father who was a veteran of WWII. Senter said his father joined the military right out of high school in 1943, weighing only 125 pounds, and became a medic. Senter read a portion of Wayne Senter’s writing entitled, “Soldiers Come Home” that he wrote in December of 1945 as he and others waited aboard a ship to be sent back to the states.

Playing the National Anthem for the occasion were three seniors representing the Plymouth High School band. Those performing were Adrienne Palmer, Chris Eberly, and Craig Rundle. Although the full band is usually present at the Memorial Day ceremonies, it was announced that they were the only band to be invited to perform at Memorial Day activities in Washington D.C.

Beam and Arndt also remembered fallen National Guard member, Jeffery McLochlin of Plymouth. Beam said, “All of the military share a common bond-service and sacrifice.”

He ended saying, “My God bless the United States of America.”