Follansbee recalls veterans’ sacrifices
By WARREN SCOTT
FOLLANSBEE – “Today is a time to remember all those men and women who served their country with honor and bravery. If not for them, we would not know the freedoms we enjoy today,” former Follansbee Mayor Tony Paesano told those attending the Memorial Day service held Monday by American Legion Post 45 and the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad.
Paesano noted the many veterans who made sacrifices to serve their country and those who made the ultimate sacrifice; their lives.
“We must never forget the legacy of freedom they gave to us all,” he said.
“We bear tangible evidence of the freedoms purchased by our service members,” said the Rev. Joe Cuomo of Follansbee Christian Assembly, who noted freedom of religion was evident in the bells that rang from a nearby church to mark the hour and freedom of speech in the assembly gathered there outside the post’s headquarters.
Cuomo delivered opening and closing prayers for the service.
Bill Haught, the post’s commander, explained the symbolism of an empty table representing the many veterans who are missing in action with the help of fellow veteran Lovie Rushing Zago.
Haught noted the empty chair at the table represents the many missing veterans while the white tablecloth is a reminder of the purity of their intentions, a red rose in a vase represents the loved ones who pray for their return or answers regarding their fates, grains of salt sprinkled on a plate symbolize the many tears shed for the missing and a candle is lit “to illuminate their way home and into the arms of a grateful nation.”
Haught also recited the words to “50,000 Names Carved in the Wall,” a song recorded by George Jones and written by Jamie O’Hara about the fallen veterans whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and their survivors.
The national anthem and other patriotic music was performed by Brent Kimball, and Garrett Cessna, a sixth-grader at Follansbee Middle School, recited the Gettysburg Address. Cessna tied for third place in the Brooke County Gettysburg Address Speech Contest in April.
Wreaths were placed at the Cross Creek War Memorial outside the post home by representatives of the Gold Star Mothers, Post 45, its women’s auxiliary and Sons of the Legion group; Purple Hearts recipients, Vets for Veterans, the Garibaldi Club, Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, city government and the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad.
The squad also provided a rifle military salute. Paesano thanked the group for providing “the last military honors” to more than 100 area veterans at their funeral services and graves.
Following the service, Zago said it’s very important to remember Memorial Day. A Navy veteran who served from 1985 to 1989, Zago said it has meaning for both past veterans and current ones, including her son, Michael, who is in the Army; and many friends with whom she served.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)