Berea has two opportunities to honor our military in May. Armed Forces Day is May 20 and Memorial Day in May 29.
Armed Forces Day recognizes the contributions of our active-duty military. The City plans a special Armed Forces Day breakfast at the Recreation Center with active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen as our special guests.
Memorial Day is a solemn time to remember those who gave their lives in defense of our country. In fact, in Canada and other parts of the U.K., the day is called Remembrance Day.
Sometimes we may think of Memorial Day as a time to fire up the grill, take a day off work, shop the sales at the mall. But I see Memorial Day as similar to the wake after a funeral. We lay wreaths and flowers on graves. We say prayers for our relatives and friends who died in service to our country.
Over the almost 250 years of America’s existence, more than 2 million men and women have died to preserve our democracy. Some of them came from Berea.
Army 2nd Lt. Albert Baesel’s Ohio National Guard unit was called up during World War I. He was killed in France in 1918 and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Marine Cpl. William “Billy” Wade graduated from Berea High in 1963. He died in Vietnam in 1966 while attempting to rescue a comrade. He earned the Silver Star posthumously.
Marine Cpl. Brad Squires was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2005. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. He graduated from Berea High in 1997.
As the Rev. Patrick Hunt of Heritage Congregational Church reminded us at a Community Memorial Service last year, such times are opportunities to remember loved ones. “But the one thing we haven’t lost is our memories,” he said. “Memories bring our loved ones ever closer to us.”
On Memorial Day, let’s remember the sons and daughters who fought and died for us. Say their names. Salute them. Remember them.