Pitman: Memorial Day isn’t about having a day off

Memorial Day represents a lot of things for people.

Some see it as the unofficial start of summer, though the three-month season actually begins on June 21. And others see it as a paid day off.

But the last Monday in May is a solemn day — a day for reflection and remembrance of those who fought and died for America.

That’s something retired Army Lt. Col. William Moeller plans to address in his Memorial Day speech at Greenwood Cemetery, which follows the annual wreath-laying at the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument and the Memorial Day parade.

“I’m just so honored to be asked to give them the Memorial Day speech, to honor those who have given the last full measure of their duty to our country,” said Moeller, the older brother of Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller. “It’s really a day we need to remember those who either died in battle or died while serving our country.”

When the calendar turns to Memorial Day every year, one of the people Moeller thinks of is one of the first people he worked with as a company commander in Fort Hood, Texas, was Jeffery Sheldon from New York. He was a driver for Moeller, and was assigned to drive a brigade operations officer to evaluate a night-time training exercise.

The Jeep he drove flipped, and Sheldon died in the accident.

“It’s sad to see a young man die at such a young age, but he was ready to serve to accomplish the mission,” he said.

He also thinks of a West Point classmate, whose son, Sgt. Adam Ray, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.

Moeller ― who’s been married 41 years to his wife, Bridget, and has a son, Will, a major in the Army ― has always been the adventurous type, which is why he sought out a West Point nomination, graduating in 1978 as a commissioned Second Lieutenant. He said he was an “adventurous type,” and to this day liked “doing difficult things” ― and still does having run a few hundred marathons in his life, which includes five or six Flying Pig Marathons in Cincinnati.

“I had great role models growing up,” he said. “My grandfather served in World War I, and Uncle Jim served on the USS Texas during World War II,” he said, adding that some of his teachers were role models. “Hamilton is a great town to be from. I’ve traveled around quite a bit, been in Texas a lot, but Hamilton has always had great parades, especially Memorial Day, and that just, you know, I just pressed upon me wanting to be of service to others.”

Moeller plans to make his speech short and sweet, but he plans to tell those listening, “We reap what we sow.”

“We need to continue this great tradition of remembering those who died for our country,” Moeller said. “It’s not all about celebrating the start of summer.”

So whether you’re at a family gathering, or watching a fireworks display with friends, remember those who fought and died for the country. Raise a glass and salute their collective memories because many families and friend groups are incomplete because of the sacrifices those Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Guardsmen made.


Here’s how Hamilton is honoring on Memorial Day those who died:

9:30 a.m.: wreath laying at the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument.

10 a.m.: Parade begins (line up on Monument Avenue at 9 a.m.)

11:15 a.m.: Ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery.

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