Belpre ceremony honors soldiers

BELPRE – More than 150 community members and leaders joined together Monday to honor those who gave their lives serving in the United States Military during the annual Belpre Memorial Day ceremony at Leavitt Funeral Home of Belpre.

The program, organized by American Legion Post 495 and the Ladies Auxiliary, began with a moment of silence for the POWs and MIAs and featured a laying of a wreath, a rifle salute and the playing of “Taps.”

“May our prayers always be for peace and brotherhood,” said Post 495 Chaplain Bob McDonald. “We pray for our brothers who sleep under the sod and those under the sea; may their spirits know we are always praying for them.”

Post Commander Bill Harpold listed the number of soldiers killed in action since April 19, 1775 – the beginning of the American Revolutionary War – with which conflict, skirmish or war that lost the most per century.

“While there have been more than a million servicemen and women killed in the past 239 years and most of them buried around the world, there is no running count of how many Americans have been lost at sea,” Harpold added.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said he does see a difference from Memorial Day to Memorial Day, throughout each year.

“In the past two weeks, our American Legion has honored 13 students who have chosen to go into the military,” Lorentz said. “This proves volunteerism is alive and well in Belpre and let’s never forget where we would be, or where this country would be without volunteerism, no matter how you look at it.”

This year’s keynote speaker was past National Vice Commander of the American Legion Glenn Hickman, who lives in Columbus.

“We remember those who are no longer with us because they sacrificed for our freedoms,” Hickman said. “And we continue to lose heroes every day, so it is fitting we have a day like this.

“Americans must remember freedom is not free because fallen heroes have given their lives,” he added.

The program was held in front of the funeral home, predominately in the shade of the building’s new addition, beside the flagpole and veterans memorial. The pole, surrounded by bricks with each military person whose service has been held at the facility since 1983, was dedicated during the 2007 Memorial Day ceremony.

Following the ceremony, lunch was served in the post at 100 Washington Boulevard, below the Parkersburg-Belpre Bridge.