SIDNEY — All veterans, including active military members, were honored by officials from the city of Sidney and Shelby County on courtsquare downtown Monday morning, Nov. 11.
Close to 150 people, including veterans of various ages and military branches, attended the annual ceremony in which retired U.S. Army Veteran Judy Johnson and Ohio Army National Guard Veteran Roger Lentz were the guest speakers.
Serving as master of ceremony was U.S. Air Force Veteran and 2019 Ohio Veteran Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Moorman.
Zoey Douglas, a junior at Fairlawn High School, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other participants included a rifle salute given by the Sidney Veterans’ Center Combined Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps” by U.S. Navy Veteran Carl Zimmerman. Veterans of Foreign War Post placed two memorial wreaths during the service. Also in attendance were Shelby County Commissioners, with remarks from Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann, Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst and the benediction given by U.S. Air Force Veteran Duane Mullen.
Johnson addressed veterans and others gathered about what veterans represent and the service of several veterans. She also read out loud and spoke on the personal impact of taking the Oath of Enlistment.
“I can say without reservation, I strongly believe veterans are the backbone of America,” Johnson said after giving the definition of a backbone. She then read the Code of Federal Regulations’ definition of a veteran. “Being a veteran represents so much more, as you all know. A veteran is a man or woman reciting the Oath of Enlistment, or Oath of Office, for officers, attesting their loyal and faithful service to their country and must adhere to it his or her entire military career.”
During her closing remarks she challenged civilians to go a step farther than thanking veterans for their service, by asking questions about their time serving, and to give to veteran programs, such as the veteran food pantry.
Lentz’s speech began remembering veterans who gave all and those who were able to return home, but also focused on the Monumental Building. The commemorative building, completed 142 years ago and located on the northwest corner of Ohio Avenue and Court Street, was the first memorial of a veterans hall in the state of Ohio, he said. He went on to speak about the building’s incarnation over the years. The most sacred portion of the building, he noted, is in the Shelby County Veterans Service office where three tablets etched with the names of veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War are kept.
“It is said that architecture is the highest form of art. It reflects our greatest strengths and aspirations. It is the visible bridge between our grandfather’s father and our children’s children. It is a lasting symbol of the continuity of life and is permanent reminder of what you can achieve by cooperation. So, from a monumental past to a future with both hope and promise, we extend our thanks and heartfelt appreciation to those who have gone before us,” Lentz said.
He then (and Johnson before him) extended an invitation to continue honoring veterans at a “Bicentennial Salute” later on Veterans Day at 7 p.m. at the Sidney Municipal Courthouse. Johnson, Lentz and Jim Koppin are the presenters for the service.
Ehemann thanked veterans for their service and told those gathered, “Today on Veterans Day, it is important that we honor veterans. …Their sacrifice means the rest of us are able to enjoy our freedoms, our faith and the security and comfort of this great land to raise our families.”
Barhorst thanked those who have and continue to serve and for attendees for coming to the morning service.
“Each of us owe a debt of gratitude to American veterans from the founding of our country to the present day, who have set aside their hopes, dreams and ambitions to ensure the well being of our great nation,” Barhorst said, before commenting on his grandfather’s and father’s service.
At the end of the ceremony, Johnson and Lentz both said they were honored to speak at the Veterans Day service.
“I am very honored to be able to be here today. And it is very honorable to be able to serve our country for the years that we could,” Johnson said when asked how she and Lentz felt to speak that morning.
Lentz added, “We are very honored to be here (for the ceremony.) And tonight, we are going to review the four highest medals that are given, the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star, and so forth. And then we are going to comment on some veterans that we three presenters have selected.”
The Shelby County Veteran’s Service Office, located at 133 S. Ohio Ave., can be reached at 937-498-7282.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.