REMEMBERING: Annual parade honors fallen veterans

COLUMBIA CITY — Freedom isn’t free. That was the theme of the ceremony at Greenhill Cemetery Monday presented by American Legion Post 98 and VFW Post 5582.Under the direction of Richard A. Stark, current adjutant and past commander of Post 98, several speakers told of the meaning behind Memorial Day to hundreds of people carrying American flags.The day began with a parade going through downtown Columbia City and ending at the cemetery. The parade was directed by Joe Pittenger. Hundreds of people lined the streets of Columbia City waving their American flags as the many troops walked along the parade. Some were driven by generous residents owning golf carts. The Columbia City High School Golden Eagle Marching Band played patriotic songs throughout the parade. Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and the De La Balme Daughters of the American Revolution marched and handed out American flags to those who didn’t have one.The ceremony featured a Color Guard including Robert “Rusty” Restemayer, Dave Hawn, William Calhoon, Laura Silvers and Norris Strickland. The Korean War Color Guard included John Slabaugh, Jim Shaw, Art Cummin and Nick Deem.The opening prayer was offered by Gene Rohrer, chaplain of the Leatherneck Coffee Club and Dean Ramsey, Post 98 chaplain. Post 98 Commander John Richards welcomed the more than 200 people at the ceremony and shared how emotional he gets when talking about Memorial Day.The following troops were members of American Legion Post 98 and/or VFW 5582 who have died since Memorial Day 2011. Fredrick L. Collar, Steve Cummins, Richard A. Doversberger, Earl Eckert, Orval R. Fisher, John Fries, David Heritier, Paul Herron, Kim Jenkins, Richard L. Minear, Richard Ramp, Ronald L. Ramsey, Frederick Schrader, Robert Teusch, Garland A. Watters, Billie Wheeler, Nolt Wilcken, Robert Bowman, George R. Perkins and Keith Rupert.The firing squad gave the traditional 21 gun salute. Included in the firing squad were Bill Hare, commander; Bob Hearld, Mike Bellinger, Dave Byer, Ken Kurtz, Stu Bird, Keith Bird, Colby DeBolt and Ed McWilliams. Also joining the firing squad were current troops PFC Logan Hall, Army Reserve, Pvt. Nicholas Deem, Marine Corps and Pvt. John Hensler, Army National Guard.