Ceremonies throughout Warren County on Monday had the same goal of honoring those who lost their lives in service of the United States.
At the ceremony in Warren, Bruce Schwab who retired from the Air Force, said it was a day to pause and reflect. It was also time to remember those who could not be there, he said, as they died while defending the flag.
Many people who have served and are still serving deserve thanks, Schwab said, but Memorial Day is not about them. Instead, it is about those who lay beneath the ground.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Paul Tutmaher plays Taps at the Sugar Grove ceremony.
"Those warriors gave their lives," Schwab said. "They gave all their tomorrows so we can have all of our todays and tomorrows."
While everyone is created equal, Schwab said not everyone has equal purpose in life. One group of Americans was different, he said, because they wore the nation's uniform and perished while serving.
Schwab asked those in attendance to take in their surroundings. The senses show America is free from the sights, sounds and smells of war.
Warren County Commissioner John Eggleston read a proclamation to commemorate Memorial Day. The blessings of liberty require sacrifice, he said, and everyone owes a debt of gratitude to the countless servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
City Councilman John Lewis also read a proclamation from Mayor Mark Phillips. It called upon citizens to remember those who died so they may remain free.
In Sheffield, Jim Cheronis shared his experiences serving in Desert Storm. He was about to be discharged when war broke out and he was deployed.
"There were a series of out-processing stations I had to go through, but two of them I remember most," Cheronis said. "One was where I had to make up my will, and in the last one they handed us a Bible."
During his seven months in the war zone, Cheronis said he would encounter Kurdish people who were caught in the middle of the conflict. His unit commander took pity on one of the families and provided a tent. For them it was like winning the lottery.
After his service ended, Cheronis said he came home in one piece. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, he kissed the ground.
Lynn Hamsher, AMVETS Pennsylvania Commander, served as guest speaker at the Sugar Grove ceremony. During the journey of some who serve, she said they are called to God's kingdom.
"They had no fear of dying," Hamsher said. "They didn't do it for glory or media attention."
Instead, Hamsher said they were humble. Memorial Day is a time to remember and celebrate their lives.