FOLLANSBEE - As guest speaker for Follansbee's Memorial Day service, Air Force Reservist Marc Thompson recalled the Battle of Normandy and the many servicemen who died to liberate France from Nazi Germans.
These included many men in the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion, who scaled 100 feet up Pointe du Hoc to reach Nazi artillery atop the mountainside while under enemy fire, Thompson said.
"Those men were heroes," said Thompson, a Follansbee area native.
But he added, "They aren't the only heroes."
Thompson said in addition to the many other veterans who gave their lives in conflicts dating to America's earliest days, there were many civilians who supported them.
He encouraged all attending the service outside American Legion Post 45 to remember every day the many veterans who have defended America's freedoms and those freedoms, including the freedom of religion, not enjoyed by people in many other nations.
A staff sergeant with the Air Force Reserve, Thompson applied his skills as a pharmacy technician to provide trauma care to fellow service members and civilians, including children and even dogs, while serving in Bosnia and Iraq.
A 1979 graduate of Brooke High School, he currently is based with the 911th Air Force Reserve in Pittsburgh.
Those attending also heard from Follansbee Mayor Emeritus Tony Paesano who, as master of ceremonies, noted the veterans honored Monday "paid the ultimate price for something we sometimes take for granted - our freedom. Without them, liberty for all would not be a reality and our enemies, foreign and domestic, would overcome us."
Bill Haught, American Legion Post 45 commander, explained how an empty chair and table placed near the post's veterans monument symbolizes the many who are prisoners of war or missing in action.
Wreaths were placed at the monument by representatives of several groups: Sandy Perito, the Gold Star Mothers; Ed Meneely, Post 45; Rita Robinson, Post 45 auxiliary; Michael Capriotti, Sons of the American Legion; Mayor David Velegol Jr., on behalf of the city; Leonard Baldauf, Purple Hearts; Tom Longwell, Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad; Lou Gambellin, Garibaldi Lodge; John D'Aurora, Follansbee Chamber of Commerce.
Also participating were: the Follansbee Middle School Band, which performced the national anthem; George Dragonir, Post 45 chaplain, who offered prayers; the Tri-State Young Marines, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; Jared Harlan, who sang "God Bless the USA" and "The Soldier," a song he wrote in tribute to service members; and the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad, which delivered a military salute.
Among many local veterans on hand for the event were Clyde DiAngelo, a 93-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor; and Charles Kline Sr. of Follansbee, an Army Korean War veteran who donned his dress uniform for the occasion.
DiAngelo's daughter, Sheila Kendrick of Weirton, said her father, a Steubenville native, is always pleased to attend Memorial Day and Veterans Day services honoring his fellow service members.
Kline said more should give back to their country by serving in the military.
"It's a great place to live," he said.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)