SIDNEY — The 36th Annual Veteran Day Program at the Shelby County Fair was held Monday night. Every year, Veteran’s Day is held at the Shelby County Fair to honor the veterans of Shelby County from each branch of the Armed Forces.
This year’s program was opened by Zack Bosslet, commissioner of the VSO. He was followed by Duane Mullen, chaplain of VFW Post 4239, who gave the opening prayer. The National Anthem was sung by Caroline Scott, a junior at Fairlawn Local Schools.
The Pledge of Allegiance was read by Alex Lamma, a Boy Scout from Troop 97. Jerry Schmidt welcomed everyone as a representative of the Shelby County Fair. Zach Bosslet introducted the speaker, Deborah Ashenhurst, director of Ohio Department of Veteran Services.
Ashenhurst began her speech by introducing herself and describing her position as the director. Prior to her current position, Major General Deborah Ashenhurst (U.S. Army, retired) served for 37 years in the both the U.S. Army and National Guard, also serving as the Adjutant General of the State of Ohio. Ashenhurst, along with most of her family has served in the U.S. Military, and she uses that experience to better provide service for the nearly 800,000,00 veterans in Ohio.
She spoke specifically of the re-emphasis of quality of service for the County Veteran’s Offices across Ohio. Thanks to her work, along with the new state budget, many improvements are being made for veterans in Ohio. The Department of Veteran’s Services is focusing on communicating with employers on behalf of veterans, helping veterans re-enter the workforce, and providing medical care for veterans in nursing homes and those who suffer from conditions like PTSD. Lots of positive changes are being pushed forward for veterans. Ashenhurst ended her speech by saying, “let me take this time to say thank you to each servicemember here tonight and to the families that provided support from home.”
The program was continued as the Senior Center Singers sang a patriotic medley, featuring the service songs of each branch of the military. Veterans were encouraged to stand when the song from their branch was played. Every branch was represented at the program, with many veterans present from Shelby County. After this medley, a moment of silence was observed to pay respects for all those who went before us, including POW’s and MIA’s. To render salute to their fallen comrades, the Sidney Veterans Association Honor Guard and Firing Squad, saluted by firing their rifles and then playing Taps.
The Senior Center Singers led the assembled in singing God Bless America and the Benediction was given by Duane Mullen. Following the program was a social hour for all veterans and their family members, with refreshments provided by Fair Haven.
The writer is a summer intern for the Sidney Daily News.