Marietta offers salute to vets during parade

MARIETTA – The solemn sight of many saluting and the shiver-inducing sound of a rifle salute could be heard around Marietta on Monday morning.

Marietta resident Karen Reynolds has stood at the corner of Sixth and Wooster streets to watch Marietta’s Memorial Day Parade for the last 30 years.

“My brother is a veteran of Vietnam, in Pittsburgh,” she said. “So many in my era served in Vietnam… I always feel very dedicated this time of year to veterans.”

Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, attended the ceremony in Oak Grove Cemetery. He said though many just consider it just another holiday, it’s much more than that.

“It’s the day we set aside that’s unlike any other day,” Thompson said. “It’s a somber time, but also a celebratory time.”

Thompson said that he’s never served, but his dad was in a military band and his great-great-grandfather, Gen. William P. Richardson, fought.

“I’m very proud of that,” Thompson said. “You have a day like this so people don’t forget… We’re really blessed. It’s a great tradition.”

Across the Muskingum River in Harmar, the Harmar parade also commemorated fallen soldiers.

Wanda Frash, 63, of Roseville, Ohio, attended the Harmar parade because of her husband, Steve.

“My husband is with the Sons of the American Revolution,” she said. “He’s marching and he’s a member of the chapter down here.”

Frash added that her daughter has fought in the war and has been in the military for several years.

“I’ve always supported our veterans,” she said proudly. “I think everyone should support their country.”

Betty and Ken Stollar, of Marietta, also attended the parade.

Ken said they went to pay tribute to fallen soldiers. Betty said remembrance is important.

“His dad served in the Battle of the Bulge,” she said. “I just think it’s important that we remember that… I just love our country; I think it’s the best one in the world and we need to support our troops.”

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said he is a veteran, and though he’s never served in the war, Memorial Day serves as a reminder.

“It really hits close to home,” Matthews said. “I was very lucky; I was never in a war. My heart goes out to each and every veteran out there.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said being a veteran himself, Memorial Day is a wonderful day of remembrance, not only for those who have served in the past.

“It’s a day we should always remember those who have fallen and those who continue to serve,” Johnson said, adding “Marietta is well-invested into the lives of our veterans.”

He said it is important that Americans never forget the sacrifices made by veterans so they can enjoy their freedoms.

“We should never forget in America that freedom is not free,” Johnson said. “It comes at a tremendous cost and we must never back away, as Americans, from our commitment to care for and stand up for those veterans who have paid that sacrifice.”

Though Reynolds didn’t go to the ceremony in Oak Grove Cemetery, she said she paid her respects to fallen friends from her home on Eighth Street, listening to the words spoken and the rifle salute.

“So many of my friends were killed in Vietnam,” she said. “(It’s) a small token of appreciation, a very small token.”