Over 100 gather for Veteran's Appreciation Picnic
The 6th Annual Veteran's Appreciation Picnic was held at the Ray County Museum on Saturday, Sept 29. The weather was perfect and over 100 people joined us for lunch, music, fellowship and a patriotic program. I'd like to share the highlights so this day will always be preserved in history.
The fun actually started a few days before when we had a crew of eight people cleaning the museum and getting the yard ready for the picnic. The next step was my Friday night shopping trip for enough food to feed an army. It always looks easier on paper than when you're actually putting three cases of water in your shopping cart. Then comes the part where you have to figure out how many packages of hotdog buns you need for 72 hot dogs and 32 polish sausage. I later found out all this didn't really matter because we had to send the troops out for more supplies twice before the chow line closed down. We need to thank Bruce Taylor, Commissioner Allen Dale and Commissioner Mike Twyman for grilling all the hot dogs and hamburgers. We also need to thank DaVona Blyth, Michelle Dale and Karen Stigall for keeping the food line running.
Since I'm passing out notes of thanks, I would like to tell my Historical Society Board members how much I appreciate their support in setting up the picnic, clean up after and bringing food. Those who assisted were, Bruce Taylor, David Blyth, Mac Proffitt, Bruce Farlow, Hal Middleton and Jan Jackson.
Historical Society President, David Blyth presided over the program which officially started at 11:30 when we had the flag raising ceremony preformed by Larry Brune, one of our local veterans. Mike Shane gave the invocation and shared a few words about the importance of honoring our veterans. Mike was followed by Clarence Hayden playing music as the crowd lined up for lunch.
Hayden will be performing two shows at the Eagleton Civic Center in Richmond on October 19 as a benefit for the museum.
The Lexington Symphonic Band started playing at noon and everyone enjoyed their wonderful patriotic songs.
The highlight of our program was when Will Talbert, Hal Middleton and Mike Shane read the names of the 114 Ray Countians who gave their lives defending freedom in America. They recognized soldiers from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A bell was rung after each name was read for one of our fallen soldiers. Several people told me they heard names of friends from their school days, so these soldiers have not been forgotten.
One of my favorite part of the day was visiting with old friends and meeting new friends. Everyone has a tale to share and I heard many wonderful stories. One of them was from a local man's family history that tells about Butch Cassidy surviving the shoot out in South America and living out his final days in Utah. I promise to share this story when I get all the details. I'm sorry I didn't get to personally greet everyone, but we had volunteers working to make sure that everyone got to tour our wonderful museum and have a fun day on the hill. Those helping inside the museum were Jenny Sue Layman, Lisa Smalley, Hal Middleton and Carter Rogers. I hope everyone will come back soon and not wait for a special event to stop by and see us at the museum.
Jennie Layman, Gen. Jerry Harrison, and Linda Emley
Fifth Annual Veteran's Appreciation Day at the Ray County Museum
Over 100 veterans and their family attended the Fifth Annual Veteran's Appreciation Day at the Ray County Museum this past Saturday, Sept. 10, at the museum.
The Ray County Historical Society and D.A. R. sponsored the event.
Historical Society members provided free museum tours during the day along with a free meal catered by Allen Dale and Bruce Taylor.
Historical Society President David Blyth acted as emcee and welcomed everyone to the event.
Cody Horton sang the National Anthem during the flag raising by Richmond Boy Scouts and then he performed some additional songs.
Blyth introduced the new museum administrator, Linda Emley, and said they have been extremely busy at the museum lately.
They are revamping several rooms with plans to move the Coal Miners room from the top floor to a much larger space in the basement to accommodate a significant gift of coal mining tools and equipment from Don Rogers of Camden.
They would also like to develop a room for Korean and Vietnam War memorabilia to pay special honor to the Veterans who served during those wars.
Blyth said a month ago, he attended and participated in the Military Appreciation Day ceremonies at the Missouri State Fair with Jack Woodring and Todd Dunn.
Blyth said he heard Gregory W. Davis, of Cole Camp speak during that event and would like to pass along some of what Davis said. Davis received the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one star, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Civil Actions Citation Medal, the Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
What he said is significant to Vietnam Vets.
"I quote," Blyth said. "We did not lose the war. We never gave up because we fought the fight and we finished the race. Somewhere along the line, the plug was pulled and it was not one Vietnam Vet that pulled that plug."
He cited statistics regarding the rate of death among Vietnam and World War II vets.
According to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, in-country Vietnam vets are dying at the rate of 349 a day.
U.S. veterans of World War II are dying at a rate of more than 700 a day.
"This is why it's important for us to set aside one day out of the year to honor all Ray County men and women who have served in the military," he said.
The Ray County Administrative Commission issued an Order of the Court designating September 10, 2011 as RAY COUNTY VETERANS APPRECIATION DAY.
Jim Rippy with the Richmond VFW spoke of the need for heroes.
"The midwest has many heroes," he said.
"Camden, Missouri has Lt. Harold Schreier who, on February 19, 1944, led a squad of Marines to the top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima for the first flag raising. America lost 7,000 Marines during that battle, but America gained a much-needed airfield from which we could reach Japan and end World War II.
"Richmond, Missouri, has Sergeant Major Charles Terry, age 93, who is with us today. This is the highest non-commissioned rank a soldier can obtain in the U.S. Army. Charlie was part of the 101st Airborne assault in France against the German occupation. He continued to fight the Germans throughout Europe in five different campaigns and returned home after the horrible suffering of the "Battle of the Bulge" campaign that led to the fall of German forces on V.E. Day."
"And Richmond has our very own general, General Jerry Harrison.
"Our General has seen the world since graduating in 1959 from Richmond High School.
"Our General spent 32 years serving our country, including four assignments at the Pentagon.
"Our General served in the field artillery with the 101st Airborne Division, the same unit that Charlie served in during World War II.
"It is my absolute privilege to present "Our General" - General Jerry Harrison," he concluded.
General Jerry Harrison spoke about his time growing up in Richmond and working with his dad building homes and businesses that still stand in Richmond.
He had no plans to go into the military until Gordon Cupps at Mansur Appliance suggested it to him.
Then it was off to West Point where he learned the meaning of duty, honor and country - the three words that defined his career.
"From my first assignment in Germany jumping out of airplanes, to my last where I was responsible for representing the Army to Congress for four years, those three words pretty much summed up what I tried to live up to," he said.
He spoke of losing his ring, his friends and his classmates while serving in Vietnam.
"This community lost 14 whose names are on a memorial on the square," he said. "Honorable men who went to serve and whose names are also among the 58,195 engraved on the Vietnam Memorial that gave their lives in that conflict.
"Those here who served and were blessed to return to our friends and families have a special bond . . . we are a band of brothers that can gather and share stories and honor those who are not here and remember them."
He asked the audience to fast forward from the conflicts of the past to those serving in the military today.
"Our nation has been at war for ten years," he said. "A different kind of war which has taken the lives of thousands of men and women and inflicted physical and mental wounds.
"Two days ago, I was with a Colonel at Ft. Leavenworth who will have two consecutive years with his family for the first time in ten years. Spouses and children that see the statistics of the war every day, such as they did in our time of serving in Vietnam.
"Many deployed for multiple tours, some even five or more. Today, there are men and women serving in Afghanistan to defeat the very terrorists that threaten our safety here at home.
"I would ask that today we all remember them in our thoughts and prayers."
Gen. Harrison said he could not put into words what an honor it was to share the day with the veterans of Ray County.
"I will offer the one thing that is recognized as a gesture of respect for our flag, our national anthem, and among the servicemen and women around the world. I salute everyone here, whether your are a veteran or not, and thank you for you're service in your own way to your family, your community, and your country."
The formal presentation ended with Lynn Rogers offering the blessing on the meal and Alexis Rice and Cathy Rogers leading the crowd in singing "God Bless America."
David Knopf performed music throughout the afternoon.
Members of the Ray County Historical Society Board of Directors are Mac Proffitt, Jimmy Carter, Terry McWilliams, Barbara Dickson, John Crouch, Bruce Taylor, Don Forlow, Carol Proffitt, Hal Middleton, Jan Jackson and David Blyth.