By Steve Keenan
OAK HILL —
A lively wind buffeted a special Veterans Day ceremony along the White Oak Rail Trail Monday.
So lively, in fact, that a United States flag set up for the occasion was briefly toppled.
The ceremony was staged to dedicate the new Blue Star Memorial marker honoring the military which the Woodland Oaks Garden Club worked on procuring and erecting near the Oak Hill Fire Department.
Major General (Ret.) John E. Barnette, the former commander of the West Virginia Army National Guard and chief of staff for the 8th United States Army Korea, unveiled the marker. During his remarks, Barnette mentioned two individuals who went to collect the fallen flag during the ceremony. “I can’t see behind me,” he said, “but I bet there’s a veteran holding the flag.” And he was correct.
Veterans are “willing to sacrifice everything for the rest of us,” Barnette stressed. “They are people who define America and her way of life.”
Referencing the large number of Mountain State residents who have served or are still in service to their country, Barnette says he scoffs when some charge that it’s because of the economy. West Virginians serve, he said, because they “believe in the ideals that make our country what it is.”
Barnette also praised military members’ families for the sacrifices they constantly make.
The Blue Star Memorial marker, a project of National Garden Clubs, Inc., honors men and women who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces.
“It is always an honor to be able to erect a Blue Star Memorial marker,” said Brenda Moore, West Virginia State Garden Club president. Moore then quoted John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Sadie Brash, Woodland Oaks Garden Club president, said the marker honors “all the sacrifices” of members of the armed forces.
Barbara Anderson, representing the West Virginia Blue Star Memorial organization, detailed the history of the Blue Star, of which there are 2,500 in existence nationwide, including 75 in West Virginia. “We owe our veterans a huge thank you,” she said.
Lt. Jon Lopez, the Oak Hill mayor, expressed pride in serving his city and his country. He also thanked the Woodland Oaks club for their efforts “throughout the entire city.”
Others participating in the ceremony included Col. (Ret.) Ramon Lopez, who discussed a “life-long friendship” with Major Gen. Barnette and praised Barnette for his “readiness” to serve, Merry Hanning, Chaplain Brian William Knight, Sherri Brooks, Carol Manning and the Military Honor Guard 3110.
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