Remembering Heroes

ST. MARYS — According to the Rev. Ed Bray, war is insane, a fact that the greatest warriors know, and warriors face battles to restore sanity.

“It is up to those great warriors to engage the battles against the insanity — where they feel the heat, where they feel the pain, where they experience the taste of their own blood, where they take their last breath of life in order for sanity to once again prevail,” Bray said to a crowd gathered in Elm Grove Cemetery Monday morning for the annual St. Marys American Legion Post 323 Memorial Day Service.

Following a parade through the streets of St. Marys, area residents gathered in the cemetery to honor all who have served in the military with a service. The St. Marys All-Brass Band led the crowd in the Star Spangled Banner and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9289 Firing Squad held a salute to the dead after Larry Dieringer and Bob Hall laid a wreath to honor the dead. The event featured comments from Mayor Pat McGowan, poem readings by Brookelle Grunden and Jenna Perry, Auxiliary Unit 323 President Judy Block, American Legion Post 323 Commander Randy Micheal and Bray as the guest speaker.

Bray noted those in attendance of the service have their freedoms because of those who fought the insanity.

“It’s because of those who died in the war, on the battlefield and the ships that you and I stand here free people,” he said. “People of a great nation who have a great heritage, who have a great God — by whatever name we call God. We are who we are as a nation because there were those from 1776 on through today who gave their lives so that we might not have to live in insanity.”

Bray shared an essay that he wrote about a trip he took with his children in which they visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Bray recalled finding the name of a classmate of his on the memorial and the emotions that came over him when seeing the monument.

“I walked toward the great wall’s center, and it grew taller and taller and taller with list upon list upon list of names of people — too many to read them all, too many to have died,” he read. “By the time I reached the center, I was so overcome, I could do nothing but weep. Those names were people. I wept for the loss of their hopes and their dreams. I wept for their children born and for their children who never had the chance to be born. I wept for us all.”

Bray said after visiting the wall, he wondered if the wall would have the same impact on future generations.

“As I walked, not able to look back at this wailing wall, I wondered if in 50 years from now people would be able to look back, look to that same plow-shaped wall and weep as we all had wept that day,” he said. “I wondered if the walkway beside the wall would be so tear-stained that people of the future would know that war is cause for weeping. I hope so.”

Insanity, he said, calls a group of men and women to make the world a safer place.

“When the insane happens, there are those who answer the call and go to defeat the insanity,” Bray said. “They go to make this world a safer and a better place. May it never be that we ever come to a time that we forget to remember. May it never be that we come to a time when we fail to weep.”