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Navy Night returns to riverfront (WITH GALLERY)

The annual Navy Night commemoration returned to the Ironton riverfront on Thursday, drawing a crowd to honor those lost at sea.

The event, one of the lead-in services to the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, was called off last year, due to restrictions on mass gatherings and the COVID-19 pandemic, while the parade was scaled down drastically.

This year’s return saw a large turnout, though and proceeded as it normally does, kicking off with the presentation of colors from the Symmes Valley Veterans.

Charles Cooper, retired Lawrence County Common Pleas judge served as master of ceremonies, while Father David Huffman of St. Joseph Catholic Church delivered the invocation.

“Bless those who gather here and we thank you for giving us the part of life that challenge us,” Huffman said. “Keep us safe and healthy as we come to the end of this pandemic and make this weekend a time of joy as we celebrate this longest running Memorial Day parade.”

Following Huffman, Scout Troop 106, of Ironton, took part in a flag folding ceremony.

Scoutmaster David Lucas narrated, explaining each fold of the banner, carried in by the group, which is comprised of both male and female troops. Lucas also pointed out that they are the only troop in the region that has a bugler, who played when the scouts had completed the ceremony.

“And ours happens to be female,” he said of the bugler.

Mayor Sam Cramblit II read a proclamation, proclaiming Navy Night in the City of Ironton, while the master of ceremonies, retired Lawrence County Municipal Judge Charles Cooper, asked those who have served in the armed forces to stand.

A historic flag was presented by Patricia Rice, of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It included the words “Don’t give up the ship,” a quotation by Capt. James Lawrence, the American Naval commander of the War of 1812, for whom Lawrence County is named.

The speaker for the evening was U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Kirk N. Morris.

Morris is currently the Navy Operations Support Center Baltimore’s commanding officer and has been awarded three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals and the Meritorious Civilian Service award.

“All through COVID, your Navy is strong, fight-ready and more capable than before,” he said. “We are ready to achieve decisive wins from any modern threat.”

Morris spoke of the region’s history and its ties to the Navy.

“In the 1800s, your iron helped build the Navy’s first ironclad ships,” he said of the Civil War. “It was a remarkable achievement and earned it a place in the history book.”

He said the Navy’s greatest strength is not its technology, but its sailors, who “come with the highest morals and work ethic.”

“It is our sailors who make it work and are, by far, the Navy’s greatest resource,” Morris said.

Following his remarks, a procession of the scouts carried a memorial wreath to the bank of the Ohio River, where it was handed to waiting members of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Marine Boat Patrol. From there, it was taken by boat to the middle of the river and placed on the water.