Cottrel: Honor fallen military members, first responders

Driving through Enon the other day, I noticed that the flags were at half staff. I could not help but wonder what was going on.

I hadn’t heard of anyone passing away, but then my news focus lately has been mostly on the horrible events in Ukraine or keeping a wary eye on our weather.

I turned on the radio and caught a long story about the squabble over the redistricting maps being formatted in Columbus, but there was nothing about someone famous passing away.

I couldn’t help but think of my Mom.

Mom used to tell a story about her first day out after my sister’s birth. Back then new mamas and babes stayed home away from everyone’s sniffles and colds for a month or so. Mom was so happy to be out and about again, until she noticed the flags were all lowered to half staff. Half staff didn’t happen very often back then and she turned on the radio to learn of Kennedy’s Assassination. Her happy day was gone in a minute.

When my husband retired from the U.S. Navy on board the USS Constitution, the ceremony took place under a flag at half staff. We had to ask the crew who it was honoring. It was for Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, who had led troops in World War II and Korea.

Well, last weekend I had no one to ask in the car so I did a computer search when I got home. I found a really cool link on the News-Sun’s online Obituary page. has a listing of who is being honored each day by flags at half staff. There is even a way to set up an email notice.

It turns out there are national, state and local flag honors, and they don’t have to be famous people. The ones we saw this weekend were Ohio honors. These were Ohioans who died protecting us and serving their country.

From March 31 to April 7, the flags will be at half staff for Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Frances, who was killed in the line of duty while trying to apprehend suspects who were evading law enforcement on Interstate 75. He is mourned by his family, and the students of the Cory Rawson School District where he drove a bus.

From April 1 - 9 the flag will also be at half-staff in Ohio to honor Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, who grew up in Guernsey County.

Speedy was with Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, Capt. Matthew Tomkiewicz, and Capt. Ross Reynolds on the Marine Corps Osprey that crashed last week during military exercises in Norway. All four men perished far from home, training to protect us in time of war.

Next time you see the flag flying somewhere at half staff take a minute when it’s safe to check that link at or just do a search to see who is being honored.

Their names and actions might not be in the televised national news, but those being honored deserve being remembered for their service to county and community. They have earned our respect and gratitude.