Saying Thank You

Published 11:01 am Friday, May 22, 2009

David Crosson couldn’t help but smile as he noted that he was about to be part of a Lawrence County tradition that seemed made for him and those with him.

“Woodland service,” he noted, “is for all the branches of the military. But this is Navy Night.” And Crosson, in his snappy white uniform, was about to lead a delegation from the Navy Recruiting District of Ohio into the annual Navy Night service at the Center Street boat landing.

Crosson’s team would be joined by Lt. Michael Cluver and members of the Navy Operational Support Center from Eleanor, W.Va.

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They marched behind Grand Marshal Arthur Pierson and Parade Commander Ella McCown and the Rock Hill Alumni Band from the Lawrence County Courthouse down Center Street to the boat dock, where a couple hundred people waited in unseasonal heat for the official kickoff to the area’s Memorial Day observance.

As the Navy Night procession marched past, area residents stood beside their cars and waited to fall in line behind it.

One of them was Malentha Kaiser, of Ironton, her daughter, Chelsea and niece, Trista Henry.

“My grandfather was in the war. He’s passed on now. Her grandfather was, too,” Kaiser said, nodding toward Henry. “I think this is nice, to support our troops. And it shows them they’re not forgotten.”

In his invocation, The Rev. Dave Schug expressed gratitude to God for giving America men and women willing to sacrifice their own wants and needs and often their own lives in service to their country.

“Thank you for all who served and are serving now,” Schug prayed.

His sentiment was echoed by master of ceremonies, Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper, who officially recognized parade committee members, the Amvets 5293, represented at the service, and all veterans and veterans groups.

“Thank you for your service,” Cooper said.

In his keynote address, U.S. Navy Machinist Mate 1st Class John McAulay, the naval representative for this area, said the Navy had humble beginnings and was at one point disbanded by founding fathers who thought a standing Navy was a waste of money. But after U.S. merchants were accosted on the high seas and ransoms demanded by foreign countries, the worth of an armed sailing fleet began to make sense. Today, he said, the U.S. Navy commands respect around the world.

Mayor Rich Blankenship issued a proclamation, making Navy Night an officially recognized event in the city.

Near the end of the service, members of the Girl Scout troops from Central Christian Church waded into the water and spread flower petals at the edge of the Ohio River just before members of The Ohio Department of Natural Resources placed a memorial wreath in the Ohio River.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars 8850 provided the color guard and gunnery salute; Bugler Zach Jenkins was on hand to play “Taps.”

Attention now turns to Woodland Cemetery and the annual memorial service there at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Then comes the 141st Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade at 10 a.m. Monday.