Military and veterans organizations from across the area were represented in the parade which marched down Main Street to the music of bands from Meigs, Wahama, and Wirt County, W.Va., each pausing briefly before the review stage to play a patriotic selection.
The Drew Webster Post 39, American Legion, honor guard led the parade followed by Mick Williams, parade marshall. There were floats carrying dignitaries like Lt. Col. Jennifer Menchini Kirby, commander of the 142nd Acromedical Evacuation’s Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard, and flight nurses Lt. Col. Kay Nardone and Sandy Mulroony who work in the evacuation of injured military personnel.
There were entries in memory of First Sgt. Bobby Barton II, another to POW’s, and area Legion and VFW Posts along with Civil War Veterans’ organizations.
Speaker was Lt. Col. Amanda Clark, U.S. Army retired after 20 years of active service, and now residing in Mason County. She spoke of the privilege of serving one’s country, describing it as a calling, and talked about what it means to be a veteran.
In her talk she emphasized the changes military service brings into the lives of those who serve and how that experience carries over into later civilian life. “It teaches values, loyalty, integrity and personal courage,” she said, “and returns those who serve a different and better person.”
But, she continued, “freedom isn’t free and we have veterans to thank for this. Lives have been changed, families have lost loved ones; many have given their all.”
She spoke of her dependence on God through her years in the military and how she had been bought closer to the Creator and then concluded with a song in tribute to God and country.
Also speaking was Alan Wallace, a first responder at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 who related the story of what happened there the day of the attack.
Joe Struble of Legion Post 39, emcee for the program, made several introductions and recognized two of Meigs County’s World War II prisoners of war – Charles E. Humphrey and Richard Boring, who attended, along with Nathan Biggs, one of the county’s most decorated World War II veterans.
A special candlelighting ceremony in tribute to MIA-POWs was presented by the Mason VFW Post 9926, and there was special patriotic music by the River City Players, Dustin Digman, and Sharon Hawley.
A wreath in tribute to those who died at sea was placed in the Ohio River by Navy veterans Eddie Ball and Jack Lewis, after which the Drew Webster Post firing squad gave an honor salute followed by taps to conclude the program.