Butler County speakers: Memorial Day more powerful than parades, picnics

More than 100 people attended a Memorial Day service Monday morning outside the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton. Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller served as master of ceremonies and the event included six local honor guards, speeches, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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More than 100 people attended a Memorial Day service Monday morning outside the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton. Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller served as master of ceremonies and the event included six local honor guards, speeches, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Events held throughout Butler County as residents pay respects to veterans who died serving

Thousands of people throughout Butler County found different ways to celebrate Memorial Day, but there was one common thread woven throughout the flying American flags: It was a day to remember those “heroes who never had the opportunity to hang up their uniforms.”

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Middletown hosted a Memorial Day parade and thousands of residents lined Verity Parkway; there was a program outside the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton that was highlighted by speeches from a 2021 high school graduate and the executive director of the Butler County Veterans Services Commission; the West Chester Memorial Parade was organized by VFW Post 7696 and American Legion Post 681 and proceeded down Cincinnati-Dayton Road; and the City of Fairfield held a drive-by parade.

Mike Farmer, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and executive director of the county veterans services commission, reminded those sitting outside the Hamilton monument that there’s one major difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

He said for many veterans Memorial Day is more meaningful than parades or picnics.

“They have seen the unthinkable,” he said. “It’s not about me or the other veterans. It’s about those who died along the way. The men and woman who didn’t come home to their families. The heroes who never had the opportunity to hang up their uniforms.”

Frank Munafo, a graduating senior from Badin High School, talked about his family’s long military history that includes 14 generations and more than 325 years of combined military service.

“My roots come from the military,” said Munafo, who received two Congressional nominations to attend the Naval Academy and West Point, but he wasn’t admitted so he’s attending Miami University. “I’m proud to be in the family I am, my ancestors are in fact my heroes as well.”

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He said over the past several years, the country has seen “groups of people tarnish the flag, riot instead of protest, and lose remembrance of the meaning of Memorial Day and the men and women who fought and paid the ultimate price to keep our freedoms, which we take for granted every day. My apologies go out to the veterans who came today, as well as all veterans. They did not fight for the adversity and division we’ve seen today caused by the media and lack of knowledge.”

In Middletown, World War II veterans Donald Saylor and Earl Reynolds, 96 and 95, respectively, served as grand marshals and Jeri Lewis, parade organizer, said she was “amazed” by the number of people who lined the route from Smith Park to Woodside Cemetery.

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As Mark Carroll, his wife, Treva, and their grandson, Robert, 5, waited for the parade to begin, he said it’s important to celebrate Memorial Day with family and “pass it down from generation to generation.”

Jamie Herron, of Middletown, sat on Verity Parkway near the entrance to the cemetery. She was looking forward to touring the decorated cemetery and waving to her son and mother who were riding on the United Baptist Church trailer.

She said the holiday is a time to “never forget” those who died serving this country.

Rodney Muterspaw, former Middletown police chief, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He said while Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer season, it’s also “a somber day, a day of reflection, a day of appreciation.”

He said what veterans sacrifice “is honorable and immeasurable. Our nation owes those who gave their lives for this country everything. We simply and bluntly need to do a better job of showing gratitude that they deserve.”

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Two World War II veterans, Larry Reynolds, left, and Donald Saylor, wait for the Middletown Memorial Day Parade to begin Monday morning. They have been friends since elementary school. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Two World War II veterans, Larry Reynolds, left, and Donald Saylor, wait for the Middletown Memorial Day Parade to begin Monday morning. They have been friends since elementary school. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Two World War II veterans, Larry Reynolds, left, and Donald Saylor, wait for the Middletown Memorial Day Parade to begin Monday morning. They have been friends since elementary school. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Two members of the Hamilton High School Junior Naval ROTC prepare to carry the wreath to the steps of Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton Monday morning. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Two members of the Hamilton High School Junior Naval ROTC prepare to carry the wreath to the steps of Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton Monday morning. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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Two members of the Hamilton High School Junior Naval ROTC prepare to carry the wreath to the steps of Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton Monday morning. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

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