Parkersburg church, cemetery begin Memorial Day observances

Photo by Madeline Scarborough American Legion Post 15 Honor Guard performed a rifle salute at Sunset Memorial Gardens’ 63rd annual Memorial Day service on Saturday.

PARKERSBURG — As the days lead up to Memorial Day, community members gather together to reflect on the brave men and women who left the comforts of their homes and risked their lives to fight for freedom.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.

“All have given some, and some have given all,” reminded Stanley Bannister Jr. at the annual Spring Grove Cemetery Memorial Day program, held at Logan Memorial United Methodist Church on Saturday.

Bannister is a retired member of the U.S. Army who serves as the Director of Operations for the Georgia Department of Veterans Service Central Office in Atlanta. He was this year’s guest speaker at the event.

His assignments included tours in the Military District of Washington, Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Iraq and Fort Benning, Ga.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough A local group of Civil War re-enactors known as Carlin’s Battery D 1st W.Va. Light Artillery celebrated Memorial Day on Saturday at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Parkersburg with a cannon salute.

“I am honored to stand before you commemorating the sacrifices of those military men and women who have bravely served this great country and have laid down their lives in defense of our nation,” Bannister said.

“When their country called, they answered; Some volunteered and some were drafted, but no matter how they found their way into the ranks of the military, each person took it upon themselves to serve faithfully and honorably,” he said.

Across town, Sunset Memorial Gardens held its 63rd annual Memorial Day service on Saturday.

“Its nice to have a memorial weekend to honor those who have fallen,” said West Virginia Agricultural Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, who served as guest speaker.

“Some of those coming home are doing so because someone has fallen,” he said.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Marine Corps League Detachment 1087 members Wayne Starcher, left, and Rich Sneigle unfold and raise the flag at the Sunset Memorial Gardens’ 63rd annual Memorial Day service on Saturday.

Leonhardt served 20 years in the Marines and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. During that period, he coordinated operations between all four branches of the military, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. He received personal decorations during his service including Legion of Merit, Combat Action Ribbon and eight other personal decorations.

Leonhardt said he now works to help veterans transition from military service to civilian life with a potential career in agriculture.

During the event, Sunset Memorial Gardens cut the ribbon on a newly developed area of the cemetery, which has been dedicated to veterans.

“This is all for you,” said Dwight Ullman, the general manager of Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Ullman said they had been working on the in-house project to develop the area for the past three years, and only just finished Wednesday.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Community members and family of veterans buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery gather to honor and remember their loved ones at the annual Spring Grove Cemetery Memorial Day program on Saturday at Logan Memorial United Methodist Church in Parkersburg.

“We debated on what to do with the land once developed, and decided we would make it a veterans garden,” he said.

The area has two flag poles, so that during the ceremony or funeral service, the deceased can be buried under the American flag and the flag representing their military branch.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Community members and family of veterans buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery listen to guest speaker Stanley Bannister Jr. at the annual Spring Grove Cemetery Memorial Day program, held at the Logan Memorial United Methodist Church on Saturday.

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