Memorial Day transcends simple holiday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eight days from now history will roll through the streets of Ironton, touching the lives of countless Lawrence Countians.

People from other parts of the state and the entire country just don’t understand how big a deal Memorial Day and much of the week preceding it are here in southern Ohio.

Of course every community honors its veterans and fallen soldiers. But the holiday becomes a countywide celebration here with a variety of events that pay respects to the lost and also showcase the living.

Navy Night kicks things off Thursday with an always-moving service recognizing the efforts of the seagoing branches of the armed services.

Next Sunday will mark the annual Woodland Cemetery service that features a solemn paying of respects to the heroes buried there. For those who have never seen it, the soldier’s plot decorated with flags is a picturesque scene that isn’t to be missed.

Memorial Day itself starts in a hurry as the Veterans 5K Memorial Day Race attracts runners from around the region, all raising money for scholarships for veterans attending Ohio University Southern.

A few hours later tens of thousands of people will line the streets of downtown Ironton to watch the 142nd annual parade, recognized as the nation’s longest, continously running Memorial Day parade.

This event usually goes off without a hitch but that certainly doesn’t happen by accident. The parade committee works long and hard months in advance to make sure this parade of thousands rolls along smoothly.

Sprinkle in a basketball tournament, several high school graduations and numerous family or class reunions and you have a special time for the entire region.

Each of us can do our part, too.

Now is perfect time to cleanup our home, property or business. A little TLC can help make a good impression on visitors.

If you do go to the parade or other events, be courteous to others and take your trash with you when you leave. Many Ironton homeowners are opening up their yards and storefronts to allow people to watch the parade. It is only right to repay that generosity with the proper respect.

Perhaps most importantly, each of us should take the time to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day and all the sacrifices that make this holiday possible.

American author Francis Marion Crawford may not be nearly as well known as his peers of the time, but he perfectly understood the sacrifices made by our veterans.

“They fell, but o’er their glorious grave,” he wrote. “Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.”

Amen.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.