Event honors the nation#8217;s sea-going services

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

All in attendance paused to honor those who served and those who are serving in the nation’s sea-going services.

The annual Navy Night service was held Thursday at Ironton’s Center Street boat landing.

Keynote speaker Harold Spears, himself a Navy veteran, told those who gathered for the service that while people often associate Memorial Day with lively celebrations, this holiday is meant as a remember that throughout our nation’s history, men and women have been willing to fight to advance the cause of freedom.

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“Going back all the way to Valley Forge, going back to Gettysburg and World War I,” he said. “Then we had the World War II vets and Korea — that’s the forgotten war but let us not forget them — and Vietnam, where they suffered so much and where they did not know their enemy and then in the war now.

“All the military personnel are doing what they have always done: Protect you and me at the risk of loss of their own lives and many have lost their lives.”

Spears recounted battles where American sailors and Marines have lost their lives at sea, from the battle of Okinawa to Iwo Jima.

“General William Tecumseh Sherman once said ‘war is hell’ and he was right,” Spears said. “War is hell.”

Spears urged the attendees to remember these and other sacrifices made over the years in defense of American liberty.

Lisa Bailey, of Huntington, W.Va., sat at the boat landing with others gathered for the service and watched her husband, David, march

with service men and women. David Bailey is a First Petty Officer with the Naval Reserves unit in Huntington.

He returned from Iraq in October and Lisa said she is glad to have him home safe and sound. This was her first time attending a Navy Night service in Ironton.

“I didn’t even know they had anything like this,” she said. “This is so nice.”

Mayor John Elam read a proclamation declaring Thursday Navy Night in Ironton. He brought with him two of Ironton’s finest: Firefighters Capt. Craig Thomas and Louis Sheridan, who both served their country in the military and now serve their community.

Neither Elam nor the two firefighters probably had any idea they would be called to serve their community at that meeting.

When someone collapsed, Thomas and Sheridan dashed from the lower level of the boat landing to the upper level to render assistance until paramedics arrived.

During his invocation, The Rev. Dave Schug thanked God for sending brave soldiers. He also asked God to remember in particular those overseas now fighting the war in Iraq.

“Protect them and have your hand of mercy on them,” he prayed “Because of those who have served we have the freedoms we have today.”

Local Girl Scouts dropped flower petals in the water from the river bank, members of the U.S. Coast Guard from Huntington, W.Va., dropped a wreath in the river from a boat just off shore.

The South Point High School marching band, The Band of Gold, played patriotic selections. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8850 provided the color guard and gunnery salute and Boy Scout Zach Jenkins played taps.

Attention now turns to the Woodland Cemetery service at 2 p.m. Sunday. Then, the 138th Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade will be at 10 a.m. Monday.