County recognizes its veterans

Pamela Crimbchin

The Honor Guard of VFW Post 1055 of Ravenna present the colors at the Portage County Veterans Day commemoration yesterday morning. Brittany Ankrom | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Kevin Tabor, who was serving in Iraq this time last year, gave a definition of a veteran from an unknown author.

“A veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of up to and including their life,” Tabor said as he stood on the Portage County Courthouse steps yesterday as part of the Veterans Day program.

Tabor, of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said that in the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany to end World War I. Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day is now set aside to remember all those who served and are serving our country.

Veterans, families and friends stood outside the courthouse listening to speakers from throughout the state and remembering those who have served for our country.

Sgt. Teddi Ferguson, freshman nutrition major, has been in the National Guard for three years.

“I know for a fact that it makes the veterans feel so good that they are recognized for their services,” Ferguson said.

The Kent Roosevelt Brass Quintet played patriotic songs throughout the program to salute and remember veterans.

Lt. Governor Lee Fisher shared a family story of hope and survival with the audience.

Fisher’s father-in-law was a prisoner of war during World War II but never shared any of his imprisonment experiences with his nine children. The family never knew how he survived until his wife revealed a diary he kept during that time.

The diary was full of Italian pasta recipes and hope for the future that he had for his family. Fisher explained how important the future is to the survival of those who are serving our county.

“The future belongs to those of us who even in the darkest moments can see it,” Fisher said.

Staff Sgt. Raymond Mann of the Ohio National Guard explained how veterans are “men, women, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, rich, poor and somewhere in between.”

Mann said yesterday was his first time speaking at a Veterans Day program, and he enjoyed the turnout for the ceremony.

Mann said he is thankful this Veterans Day that “no matter what your views are, no matter what you think about politics or war, you have the opportunity to express yourself in any way.”

Mann’s father, Raymond Mann, was in the crowd watching one of his sons speak, while remembering two others who also serve our county.

“I think we better have a Veterans Day because it means so much to us,” Mann said.

Congressman Tim Ryan, who helped build the Portage County Veterans Memorial Plaza by securing $72,000 from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds, said Veterans Day is like Christmas in his family.

Ryan said as a Christian, he recognizes the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t remembering Jesus and Christianity throughout the entire year – just like how veterans should be recognized throughout the year, not just on Veterans Day.

“We are supposed to honor veterans every single day of the year,” Ryan said.

Program attendees, both young and old, took time to remember those who have served for our freedom by reading the commemorative bricks placed throughout the plaza.

County commissioner Chuck Keiper, who introduced each speaker, said 103 additional bricks were laid in 2009.

Keiper closed the ceremony by leading politicians, veterans, families and friends in the singing of “America the Beautiful” in honor of all who have served and are serving America.

Contact public affairs reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected]