HARRISVILLE - At the Adena American Legion Post 525 Memorial Day parade, a petite lady with an American Legion hat, covered with pins of significance, a yellow tie and official legion shirt, could be found directing traffic, placing vehicles for the parade, assisting an elderly veteran to his seat and handing out programs.
That person would be Shari Friend, a Navy veteran.
At one time, she would be marching in the parade while carrying a rifle and wearing high heels.
"No more of that though," she said.
In her years of service, Shari spent time in Iceland, Greece, Naples, Rome, Old Rota, Spain and then came back to Buffalo, N.Y., for her last five years in the military.
Departing from the Navy at age 45, she was called mom by many of the women in different troops over the years. She earned plenty of respect by being in the K001 rifle squad, the first female rifle squad in existence.
Her son, James, was unable to go to into the military, but when his mother returned from service in February 1991, they both became college students. He graduated in 1994 as an X-ray technician and his mom received her diploma as a certified medical assistant in 1995.
Friend's medical knowledge came into play when she became part of the Harrisville Fireman's Auxiliary, where an ambulance service is in operation. She serves as vice president for the organization as well.
The mayor, mother and medical technician is a member of the Gilbert Kuntz American Legion Post 525 and is chaplain there.
At the Memorial Day parade, when one of the veteran officers was calling her name for something, Friend answered with, "Yeah, I hear ya."
She tells about a May 26, 2003, Memorial Day, a day when her uncle, Richard Smith, died. She didn't tell anyone of her despair but went through three services with tears hiding behind her eyes.
"They learned later that day about my uncle's death and asked how I could go through the programs and not show any grief," Shari explained.
She is chairman of the Women of Faith Methodist Church in Harrisville and an alumna of the former Mount Pleasant High School. Three generations of her family have graduated from the high school.
Her parents, George, 87, and Freda, 89, Friend are residents of Harrisville.
Before attending the 102nd-year alumni association reunion dinner at the McClure House in Wheeling, on May 24, she had been out all day helping to place more than 400 flags on the graves of veterans in her territory.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)