Community recognizes Memorial Day; Parades, ceremonies honor the fallen

By Sam Wildow

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MIAMI COUNTY — Local community members took part in recognizing Memorial Day on Monday, participating in a series of events to remember and honor the service men and women who lost their lives while serving in the military.

The Piqua Veterans Association hosted its annual Memorial Day parade, leading to the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Piqua Veterans Memorial Park near Forest Hill Cemetery.

Charles “Chuck” Morris, Jr., of the Veterans Elite Tribute Squad, gave the Memorial Day address, emphasizing flag etiquette and military ceremonies.

Morris served in the U.S. Army from January 1964 to January 1967, with the last three months of his service spent in Thailand. Morris also spent 59 years in the medical profession, and he was born and raised in Piqua.

Morris referenced a photo on the Piqua Memorial Day’s program handout, which featured a man standing up out of a wheelchair to stand for U.S. flags being carried by during a parade. Morris said that person was likely a veteran, and Morris used that as opportunity to explain flag etiquette, saying, “You stand. You take your hat off.” He added that it is everyone’s job to promote patriotism.

Morris also discussed ceremonies, saying, “Every veteran is entitled to received a military funeral.” He explained the three-volley salute, which is a ceremonial act at military funerals. He explained wanting to form and take part in the Veterans Elite Tribute Squad in Piqua, saying he wanted to make sure every veteran could have an honor guard at their funeral. He was inspired after his uncle passed away in 1989, and there was no honor guard available for his burial services.

“I’ve been very fortunate with these guys behind me,” Morris said, referencing the Veterans Elite Tribute Squad. He said, in 20 years, they only missed one funeral, and that was due to COVID-19.

Morris also took an opportunity to thank the Piqua Association of Veterans, and the organization’s president, Gary Felver.

Monday’s event in Piqua also featured musical selections from the Piqua High School Band, prayers from Pastor Scott Stremmel, and the placing of the Wreath and Yellow Rose.

In Troy, the Veterans Memorial Day Committee held a Memorial Day Ceremony on the Adams Street Bridge before gathering at the Veterans Memorial Park in Riverside Cemetery. At New Soldier Circle, they held a laying of the wreaths and listened to a Memorial Day address, before also laying wreaths at Old Soldier Circle.

“This is a time to gather and remember those we’ve lost,” Troy Mayor Robin Oda said. She thanked the Amvets, the VFW, and the American Legion for planning and organizing Monday’s event, as well as thanked the Veterans Memorial Honor Guard for taking part in the ceremonies.

“Memorial Day is an American holiday observed on the last Monday of each May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in combat in the U.S. military,” Oda said. Oda recognized and thanked families in attendance who lost a family member during combat in a military conflict, also referred to as Gold Star families.

Selena Loyd, executive director of Miami County Veterans’ Services, was the keynote speaker at Monday’s event, who also thanked the Gold Star families and recognized other veterans.

“They gave of themselves for the common good,” said Loyd, who also spent 20 years in the military. She said she joined the military to make a difference, as well as “to show I care about this country.”

“I believe in patriotism,” Loyd said. She said this was also what inspired her to bring the 9/11 Memorial to Troy last year on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Loyd encouraged others to discover their purpose and make a difference.

Memorial Day events were also held in Pleasant Hill, Casstown, Christiansburg, and more.