Thanks offered in Brooke for fallen, living vets

WELLSBURG – State Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, noted John F. Kennedy once said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.’

As the key speaker for the Memorial Day service held Monday at the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park, Yost said it’s fitting that the holiday is observed on the last Monday in May, at “a time that gives birth to a season filled with warmth and light.”

Yost said the day is a time not only for mourning veterans who paid the ultimate price for our country but also for expressing gratitude for all men and women who have served in the military.

He noted both Memorial Day and West Virginia were products of the Civil War and the latter initiated a long tradition of military service among the state’s residents.

“West Virginians have always been there to answer this nation’s call to serve,” Yost said.

He said terrorism will never rest and evil will never die, but compassion, justice and freedom will endure as long as there are patriots to preserve and support them.

Yost spoke in the lot overlooking the park’s granite wall, on which are inscribed the names of 187 Brooke County veterans who died while serving their country and 27 who were prisoners of war.

He said without the courage and selflessness displayed by those whose names appear on the wall, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms we do today.

As master of ceremonies, Paul “Bud” Billiard, a member of the veterans park foundation, acknowledged the presence of the following recipients of the group’s Veteran of the Year award: Bill Schwertfeger, John Chernenko, Bobby Lauck and Gene Camilletti.

He noted the only two who were absent were the late Annabelle Coulter and Clarence “Wib” Hileman.

Billiard and fellow foundation member Charles “Poke” Beall presented medallions to members of the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad and Tri-State Young Marine Corps, led by Gabe Arlia, in appreciation for their participation in such programs and efforts to honor all area veterans.

Doug Lilly, the squad’s commander, presented a plaque of appreciation to Billiard for his efforts with the park, noting he was involved even at times when his health was poor.

Greg Cheeks of Wellsburg, who has compiled a list of veterans killed at wartime, reported on his latest project: bringing the West Virginia State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America’s Mobile Wall, a replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial that bears the names of the 732 West Virginians who served in the war only.

Cheeks said the wall will be displayed at Wellsburg’s Central Park June 30-July 2, with a memorial service at 6 p.m. on the first day.

Also participating in the service were the Rev. Angel Adams, who delivered opening and closing prayers; and Cindy Crabtree, who performed the national anthem and other patriotic music.