WINTERSVILLE - We are the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.
Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham relayed that message and thanked all those who have served and are currently serving the United States. He was guest speaker during the 59th-annual Memorial Day service held Monday at Fort Steuben Burial Estates.
"Memorial Day was born out of compassion and reverence for fallen brothers and sisters, buddies and comrades," he said. "It is a time for Americans today to acknowledge the debt we owe to the men and women who, because they love freedom, chose to live as warriors. They are willing to sacrifice their own life so that we may live in freedom."
VILLAGE SERVICES — Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham addressed a crowd during the 59th-annual Memorial Day service held Monday at Fort Steuben Burial Estates. Wintersville Mayor Bob Gale and State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, also spoke. - Jess Looman
Graham said that these "warriors" defend our right to live as individuals, yet give up their individuality for whatever their country asks of them.
"Who are these special people we call warriors?" he asked. "What kind of person becomes a warrior for his country? Ronald Drez says warriors are many things but they are at the very least servants. For the service they perform is like no other. They are called upon to bear unconditional allegiance to a nation, to risk life and limb, to protect their fellow citizens with no promise of acceptance or gratitude, and to surrender part of their own rights to freedoms so that the people they protect can better enjoy their own life."
Wintersville Mayor Bob Gale welcomed those gathered at the event.
"I would like to thank the American Legion Stevens-Christian Post 557 and the Fort Steuben Burial Estates for their continuation of this yearly celebration," he began. "A special welcome and thank you to all of the veterans that are here today to remember their comrades that paid the ultimate sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedoms that so many take for granted. We are privileged to have families and friends of our active and retired military soldiers gathered here today to celebrate and remember the sacrifices they have endured as well.
"On behalf of the residents of Wintersville and the surrounding communities, we salute those who have made that ultimate sacrifice for our country. We salute and pray for the safe return of all of our active servicemen and women. We salute our disabled American veterans, not just for their sacrifice in war, but for their continuing contribution to our nation. We salute all of our honored veterans for their years of distinguished service, for reminding us every day, what we must do to keep our country free."
The U.S. military has been a rock for more than 230 years, Graham mentioned.
"The U.S. military is an unbeatable force, against our enemies and we are eternally grateful," he stated. "From the American Revolution, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, our courageous men and women share the common bond of military service, duty and sacrifice. Yes we are slow to anger, but if you attack us, if you attack what we cherish, which is our freedom, we will respond with unending resolve and we will win because we are right."
Graham noted that warriors fight because they believe.
"Not that war is good, but it is unfortunately necessary," he said. "Our soldiers fight and die not for the glory of war but for the prize of freedom. So let us not forget that we in this country owe a great debt of gratitude to those who chose to live as warriors, who put us ahead of themselves, who had something to fight for, who sacrificed their lives so that we could live free. We can help pay that debt by remembering what they have done. And if you see a veteran, the following two words mean so much to them: say thank you, thank you."
He concluded his remarks with a quote from Charles M. Province, who stated, "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. And it is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag."