Miami County Fair honors veterans, first responders


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — The Miami County Fair honored military veterans and first responders during a special ceremony on Friday.

“Tonight we are grateful for what all of you have given in the defense of our country, our democracy,” said Ted Miller, fair board member and co-chair of the Salute to Veterans event. Miller is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served between 1966 and 1970 during the Vietnam War. Miller has also been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years for the Casstown Volunteer Fire Department.

Valerie Mullikin, a fair board member and co-chair for the veterans ceremony, also recognized first responders, saying, “Our first responders defend our democracy right here at home.”

The first speaker of the event was Thomas Vogt, who is also a Piqua city commissioner. Vogt is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, having served between 2000 and 2006. Vogt has also served with the Ohio Army National Guard.

“Tonight I’m honored to be here. It is a true pleasure to be standing in front of the veterans that forged the path for a young veteran like me,” Vogt said. He held a moment of silence “to recognize those that have come and gone.”

Vogt read the poem “It is the Veteran,” attributed to Sarah Palin’s uncle, name unknown, saying, “It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion. It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble. It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the veteran who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin will be draped by the flag.”

“Tonight we honor veterans from the Marines, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard,” Vogt said. “These veterans have unselfishly placed their lives on the line to defend our way of life and freedom. The men and women were ordinary citizens until they heard that voice that called them. That call was a call a very small percentage of people answer — it’s the call of duty.”

Vogt recognized the sacrifices of veterans made in defense of the country, saying, “America has a truly unique way of life. The freedoms we enjoy are extremely special, and that is why we defend them.”

Also speaking on Friday was Owen Via, of Newton Township, who recently placed 15th out of 64,000 entries in the national VFW Voice of Democracy competition. Via also held a moment of silence, recognizing this year is the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

For his Voice of Democracy entry, Via responded to the question, “Is this the country our forefathers had envisioned?”

“My fellow Americans, how many of us in this past year have asked ourselves, ‘What has become of our nation?’ Division within our leadership, division within our communities, division within our families,” Via said. “In these uncertain times, could this really be the nation our forefathers envisioned? This may be a surprise, but I feel we are exactly what our forefathers wanted us to be, the sole reason being that we are free.”

Via talked about how the founding fathers understood the feeling of “living through the hardships of a tyrannical leader” and “what it felt like to be denied independence.”

“This is why we rebelled in the first place,” Via said, saying that it was to make sure people had justice, liberty, and free will.

“Almost 250 years into the future, I feel that we have forgotten this. Our forefathers designed the United States in hopes of creating a nation that strives for peace, justice, and prosperity for all,” Via said.

In addressing the division within the nation, Via said the forefathers “would want us to choose to cooperate together in order to form that perfect union.”

“The next time you find yourself in doubt of our future, remember how the founding fathers shaped this country,” Via said. “They did not have a path for us to follow for we as Americans must forge our own, using our independence and free will to create a bright future for ourselves and the next generation to come. The founding fathers have bestowed upon us the power to choose our own destiny, so I can collectively speak for the average American citizen … the ability to choose in this day and age is more important than ever. Never lose hope in the United States of America, because the power to change our nation will never fade as long as we have patriotic, talented, and pure individuals who strive to make this nation what our founding fathers wanted it to be: free.”

Also during the ceremony, the Troy Christian High School band performed a number of selections. Piqua Crane and Steel also donated use of a crane to display an American flag during the ceremony.

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