Memorial Day observed in Jefferson

The Memorial Day program at the Jefferson Municipal Cemetery was a multi-generational event, as it has been in recent years. The high school band, younger students, the Jefferson fire department, and the local posts of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, were all represented at the program.

Winners in essay contests held during the past year read their essays. Fifth grader Eli Mohr read his essay, “What the Flag Means to Me.” He placed first in the American Legion contest. Seventh graders Avery Walker, Madison Hayes and Addison Adcock read their winning essays in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen contest. Greene County graduate John Mobley IV (class of 2017) read his winning essay in the VFW’s Voice of Democracy contest. His topic was “My Responsibility to America.”

Sgt Major Jim Riley

Army Sgt Major Jim Riley (Ret) gave the Memorial Day address. Riley served 30 years in the Army. He moved to Jefferson in 2015 after retiring from civilian duty with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Riley enumerated the lives lost in armed conflict by the US military from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War. He commended the students for their essays, saying their sentiments brought him to tears. “These young people are who soldiers go to war for,” he said.

He then told the story of the First Battalion of the 3-12 Cav in 1967, noting that 109 members of the unit were sent to Vietnam and one soldier was sent to long range recon school. When the 110th soldier got to Vietnam he reported to the sergeant major of the battalion. “The sergeant major told the soldier he was in the wrong place,” Riley said.

The soldier answered, “No, I’m sure I’m right.”

“But the First Batallion is all gone. They were all killed their first day in country,” was the sergeant major’s answer.

The soldier learned the parents of all 110 men had been notified of their demise. “My mother had cried because she thought I was dead. My father had cried because he thought I was dead. And I cried because I had lost 109 brothers,” Riley said.

Riley let his story hang in the air for a bit, thanked the 300 or so people for attending, and sat down. It was a sobering thought on a melancholy “holiday.”

Greene County High School band and a portion of the Avenue of Flags

Memorial Day observances were also held in Churdan, Paton, Scranton, Rippey, Franklin Township and elsewhere.

 

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