STEUBENVILLE - Steve Repella sat in the sun, granddaughter at his side and listened quietly to the speaker Monday morning at the Memorial Day services at Union Cemetery.
But when Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham sang the national anthem, the World War II veteran straightened a little more and saluted the American flag.
Repella was joined in his salute by John Brockway and Merle Waltz, all members of the Greatest Generation who joined approximately 125 people under sunny skies to remember family, friends and former comrades in uniform during the hour-long program.
REMEMBERING OUR VETS — Lt. Col. Vincetta Tsouris spoke Monday at Memorial Day services at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Steubenville. Tsouris serves as a flight nurse in the Air Force. - Dave Gossett
Repella served in the infantry in Gen. George Patton's Third Army during World War II.
"Patton was a tough general. But I appreciated him," said Repella.
Brockway was in a transportation unit that serviced the U.S. Eighth Air Force based in England while Waltz participated in the D-Day invasion of Europe as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne.
All three veterans were recognized during the services along with Capt. Maria Ravasio of Steubenville who had returned home from Afghanistan for a short visit.
"We the people of the United States have inherited the right to be free. The right of certain privileges and immunities. The freedom of personal choice, action and thought," declared retired Lt. Col. Peter O'Hara.
The Toronto native who now lives, teaches and coaches football in Carmel, Ind., said he returned to Jefferson County to visit family and friends, "and at the request of Tom Graham."
"This all started when a group of embattled farmers stood on the fields of Lexington and Concord and fired the shot heard around the world. Americans stood toe to toe against the greatest army in the world and through grit and determination forged a victory which created a new type of government. A government which would grant its citizens certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is in memory of the patriots who formed this great country that we meet here today," intoned O'Hara.
O'Hara also recognized the men and women, "stationed in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan on guard against terrorists who pose the new threat to world peace and our freedoms and liberties."
"Last night they slept on cots or small bunks. They were in sleeping bags covered by mosquito netting or wrapped in a poncho on the ground. They eat military rations and drink warm bottled water. They are missing friends and family. They are not there for the births of their kids and they miss birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, athletic events, concerts and their baby's first steps and first words," continued O'Hara.
"They fight and they give the last full measure but they are not dead. They are all around us here today. They live every time a baby is born into this free society. They live every time we pledge allegiance to the flag or sing the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' They live, my friends, and they will continue to live as long as we carry the torch," concluded O'Hara.
Just a short distance away retired Catholic Bishop Gilbert Sheldon of the Diocese of Steubenville celebrated a Mass at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
More than 100 people gathered in the Coronation Mausoleum during the Mass and then to listen as Lt. Col. Vincetta Tsouris of the Air Force describe her experience as a flight nurse.
"I took care of many patients directly from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and many did not make it home alive to spend this day with their families. In these two wars alone we lost nearly 5,000 brave men and women. So let us remember them. You still live on in the hearts and minds of the loving family you left behind," Tsouris stated.
"Today was originally called Decoration Day because it was an occasion for relatives and grateful citizens to decorate the graves of those who died in the service of their country. The holiday commemorates those who have lost their lives fighting for our country. The holiday is to show respect and American pride," said Tsouris.
"Today is also a day to take time to remember our fallen comrades and those missing in action. There are heroes facing enemies every day. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. So let them know that they are not forgotten," Tsouris remarked.
"No greater love than this does any man have that he lay down his life for his fellow men. Our brave men and women are doing that today and we salute them, support them and honor them," noted Tsouris.
Angela Segenberger and Kim Vaudrain played taps, which echoed across the valley at Mount Calvary.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)