(Posted May 20, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Last year, many veterans organization did not hold public ceremonies–or any ceremonies at all–for Memorial Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, most have plans for public observances. Some are returning to the traditional formats they followed before the pandemic. Some have made adjustments in location and programming. All aim to pay tribute to the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
- Mount Sterling
Last year, Mount Sterling American Legion Post 417 streamed their Memorial Day ceremony on Facebook. This year, they invite the public to attend the ceremony in person.
“We’re going to try do it, as much as we can, like we normally do,” said Legion member Wes Pierce.
The ceremony is set for 10 a.m. May 31 at Pleasant Cemetery. Those who plan to participate are asked to assemble at the cemetery at 9:30. The Madison-Plains High School band will perform. A salute will be fired to end the service. Following the ceremony at the cemetery, a short service will take place at First United Methodist Church of Mount Sterling. Those who attend the services are asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Prior to Memorial Day, Legion members will place flags on veterans’ graves at 6 p.m. May 27 at the cemetery. The public is invited to help. A Boy Scout troop from Five Points has already committed to assist.
- South Solon
The South Solon Community Organization will host a Memorial Day parade at 2 p.m. May 31 to honor fallen soldiers for their commitment to the country and their legacy of patriotism and sacrifice.
The Springfield Detachment of the Marine Corp League will lead the parade, followed by the Madison-Plains High School marching band directed by Renee Hosteller. Area residents are invited to participate in the parade, as well. Line-up is set for 1 p.m. at Community Park.
The parade will start at 2 p.m. at the park and proceed to South Solon Cemetery where a short ceremony will take place. Mayor Joseph L. Haney will recognize this year’s parade grand marshal, Chris Crabbe, after which Rev. Gordon Ell of Sedalia will speak. The Marines will follow with a 21-gun salute and “Taps.” Crabbe served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and grew up in and currently lives in South Solon.
- Plain City
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3268 and American Legion Post 248 and their auxiliaries will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. May 31 at Pastime Park, 370 N. Chillicothe St., Plain City.
No parade is planned this year, but the Jonathan Alder High School band will perform and Dr. Todd Wurschmidt of Plain City will speak. Those who attend the ceremony are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
Wurschmidt served as an emergency room medic in the U.S. Air Force, two years active duty, and four years with the Air Force Active Reserve. He later earned his master’s and doctorate degrees at The Ohio State University.
Wurschmidt spent his career working in the non-profit sector, including stints with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, as executive director of the Ohio Crime Prevention Association, and 20 years as executive director of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. He led efforts to create the Law Enforcement Foundation.
Wurschmidt went on to work with the United Soybean Board as transition manager, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance as chief operating officer, and most recently finished four years as capital campaign officer with Canine Companions for Independence.
In December 2020, Wurschmidt made his 25th consecutive trip to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath on his father’s grave, as well as wreaths and ornaments at the gravesites of several of his friends and colleagues. His father, Leo Clifford, was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
- West Jefferson
American Legion Post 201 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7005 and their auxiliaries invite the public to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at 12 noon May 31 at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, West Jefferson. The Legion’s honor guard will provide a three-volley salute with rifles. The VFW will provide the color guard, and member Pat Dillon will perform “Taps.”
Danny Eakins, a 1994 West Jefferson graduate, 1998 Miami University graduate, and a member of West Jefferson’s Legion and VFW posts, is the guest speaker.
Eakins enlisted in the United States Army after the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington D.C. and New York City. In 2005, he was deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader with the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, where he led more than 300 combat patrol missions. Eakins later joined the Ohio Army National Guard where he served as a company commander and battalion executive officer in the 16th Engineer Brigade. During his Army career, he earned decoration for meritorious service seven times and was promoted to the rank of major.
Eakins has served as a veteran community advocate with the State of Ohio for 14 years. During this time, he has authored and implemented state policies that have expanded veteran opportunities in higher education, professional licensing, business, and employment. For the last two years, he has served as the Ohio team leader for the national Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Veterans, Servicemembers, and Families.
Eakins has been twice recognized as Veteran Advocate of the Year by the Ohio chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America in 2011 and 2017. He was also named Veteran Small Business Champion for 2016 by the U.S. Small Business Administration in Ohio.
In addition to the ceremony at the cemetery, Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church, 9350 High Free Pike, West Jefferson, will hold a Memorial Day Mass at 10 a.m. May 31.
- Range Township
Range Township will hold Memorial Day services at 2 p.m. May 30, the day before Memorial Day, at Range Township Cemetery. Rev. John Crutchfield is the guest speaker. Readings and vocal performances also are planned.
American Legion Post 105 will hold a very brief Memorial Day ceremony at 11:30 a.m. May 31 at the veterans memorial located on the Madison County Courthouse lawn in London. Phil Robinette, the Legion’s finance adjutant and color guard commander, will say a few words. A gun salute will end the ceremony. The public is welcome to attend.
In the days leading up to Memorial Day, area veterans will place flags on veterans’ graves at the following cemeteries: Big Plain, Deercreek-Lafayette, Kirkwood, Oak Hill, Paint Township, Range, St. Patrick and Somerford.