POMEROY — “Freedom is not free! The freedom we enjoy as Americans today was given to us by our forefathers and the veterans who willingly served their country in war and peace, and when necessary, gave their lives to ensure the continuance of our national freedom.
“That is the legacy these men and women honored here today have provided us — that we can live our lives as we desire, that we can continue to have the basic freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness granted to us by the U.S. Constitution.”
Those were the words of United Air Force Colonel Air Force John M. Morris when he spoke Saturday at the fourth annual Veterans, POW/MIA and First Responders Appreciation Day held by Drew Webster Post 39, American Legion.
“They served because they found a greater calling of service before self — of willing sacrifice for the greater good of their community, nation and their fellow man; of devotion to the basic principles and beliefs on which our country was founded, ” said Col. Morris, adding that “they serve because they believe in preserving the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, which are always paid for by the blood, sweat, tears and personal sacrifices of our veterans.”
Col. Morris, who has served for more than 27 years in the military and is a combat veteran of the Iraq War, spoke of the importance of honoring members of the military and veterans who protect our freedom, serving because they are patriots who love their fellow citizens and country.
Mentioning the 9-11 attack on the twin towers at the World Trade Center, Morris spoke of the first responders, policemen, firemen and medical personnel, for their contributions to freedom there and in our communities every day.
Morris comes from a long line of military veterans beginning with his great grandfather Captain James Ward, 111 who fought in the French and Indian War, and a cousin, Nelson W. Ward, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Civil War. John’s father, Carl Morris of Rutland served in the Air Force, his two brothers, Jim and Mark Morris, both retired U.S. Air Force officers, and a nephew, Brad Morris, who is a major in the Air Force.
Participating in the program emceed by Joe Struble of Post 39 were David Hall and other members of The American Legion Post 140 and VFW Post 9926 of Mason and New Haven, who did a flag folding ceremony and then presented the flag to Col. Morris.
Recognized were Lt. Col. Jennifer Menchini -Kirby, Commander of the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuations Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard, and Charles Humphrey, a Meigs County POW in World War II.
Despite the rain, a sizable crowd turned out for the Veterans Appreciation Day Program which kicked off with a parade led by the Drew Webster Post’s honor guard followed by Morris, the Grand Marshall, and included the Meigs Marauder Band, several floats and firetrucks.
To open the program a quintet from the River City Players,consisting of Kathy Thomas, Karen Pollcyn, Bob Gordon, Karen Walker and Gary Walker, sang the National Anthem, and Dennis Moore, a Vietnam veteran, and pastor of the Common Ground Church, had prayer. The quintet returned to the microphone after the launching of red, white and blue balloons to sing a medley of service songs. That was followed by the laying of a memorial wreath on the Ohio River, a gun salute by the Post 39 Honor Guard, and prayer by the Rev. James Keesee to conclude the observance of the fourth annual Veterans Appreciation Day.