All over the world last week our veterans and our allies were remembered for their unselfish service and sacrifice.
The observance of this holiday is always centered on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the eleventh month; the time when WWI officially ended.
My husband and I found the British Remembrance Day observance with red ceramic poppies to be particularly impressive and sobering. Each red poppy represented a service member who had been killed and there were so many that the Tower of London was encircled by a solid red moat.
Americans recognize our veterans of all wars and time periods on our Veterans Day. The official wreath lying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery always makes me cry. The guards are so perfect. The view from that spot takes my breath away. I remember how the ceremony at the National Cemetery at the Pacific on Oahu was always full of flowers. The service at the American Cemetery in the Netherlands had the attention of our family. The young Dutch gentleman who had adopted my uncle’s name on the wall of the missing sent us photos of the ceremony.
But not all the touching tributes took place on the world wide or national stage.
Beautiful heartfelt remembrance ceremonies were held all over Clark County. Many schools invited veterans in for special observances of the day. I’m proud to be a part of a community that takes Veterans Day seriously.
For some of us, the honoring of veterans goes on 365 days a year.
Dave Suther keeps his eye on the veterans buried at Medway Cemetery on Lower Valley Pike. I’ve interviewed Suther before about his efforts collecting obituaries and biographical information about those buried at Medway. Now he had taken his caring to a new level, repairing tombstones.
Working with Gravestone Guardians, and other volunteers, Suther has been repairing old tombstones in the Medway Cemetery. The first to be fixed were the veterans’ stones.
Gravestone Guardians takes on the most complicated restorations where broken tombstones are reconstructed like a puzzle. The group has completed 18 of the 64 stones in need of serious restoration. Their work will continue in the spring.
Meanwhile Suther and local volunteers clean old tombstones with a biological solution and straighten the stones that are leaning or have sunken into the ground.
“It’s an ongoing project,” said Suther, who explained that he does not use soap, bleach or anything abrasive, which would make the stones’ fragile condition worse.
The group has found the best tombstone cleaning agent to be simply water and D2 Biological Solution which was developed specifically for this kind of job by Limeworks in Pennsylvania.
The New Carlisle VFW donated money to the Medway Cemetery Association to have the gravestones of veterans of all wars cleaned properly. Their donation will make the stones more readable and last longer. There are 452 veterans in the Medway Cemetery. Every Memorial Day, Dave Suther double checks to make sure all 452 have their flags.
In addition to fixing the stones, Dave Suther, his parents, Cletus and Elaine Suther and their nine children and spouses, have constructed a new cemetery directory and weather proof case. The steel framed guide has been erected in the cemetery next to the church.
All 3721 graves are listed so that visitors will be able to locate the grave sites of loved ones. He will update the list as more a buried. Suther has obituaries or a death certificate for 2800 of those graves, and he is willing to share with genealogists and historians.
“Medway is one big family and we are just taking care of our cemetery and our future places,” Suther said.