Vinton County sees low turnout for Memorial Day services
By Paul McManis
Only a handful of Vinton County residents turned out Monday for Memorial Day services held to honor those who have given their lives for their country.
Services started in McArthur, with a wreath laying at the Vinton County Courthouse, a parade and a ceremony at Elk Cemetery.
The day’s low attendance struck a nerve with the ceremony’s guest speaker, former Vinton County Judge and interim State Rep. Philip H. Rose, of Hamden.
“We salute all of those who have fallen in the service of this great country. How could we not do that,” Rose asked. “Why isn’t this cemetery full? It’s caused me angst. … It’s caused me some anger.”
Rose said the day is one that always conjures up memories and means something different for different people. He said for some it has seemed to have lost some meaning.
Rose said heroes are emerging everywhere and people should always remember to honor their memory.
Before closing the McArthur service, Rose made mention of Vinton County resident Greg Gosling, who always made time to honor those who were lost in battle. Gosling, a former military man himself, died Saturday in McArthur.
“He was a patriot from the get go and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention him,” Rose said.
Hamden’s services began with a parade starting in town and ending at Hamden Cemetery.
Rose again spoke to the few who gathered at the cemetery and challenged them to do all they can to get more people involved in the ceremonies.
Rose said he has been involved with the Memorial Day ceremonies since 1976 and wonders what has happened to the crowd that used to come to honor those who give the ultimate sacrifice.
“Parades in the past were an event. … Streets were lined four deep,” Rose said. “Take a message back: Where is everybody?”
Rose said he remembers Memorial Days when 1,000 people stood together on the hillside cemetery to pay tribute.
Rose reminded the young people in attendance to look at the flags near each headstone and remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms they enjoy. He said the ceremonies should not end, but they begin with those young people who will carry on the tradition in the future.
“Our responsibility and obligation to our veterans should not end with this last rally. They deserve better than that,” Rose said.
Ceremony Master of Ceremonies Jim Beckner said he also has been involved with Memorial Day events for nearly 40 years, and because of the lack of participation this year, he reiterated Rose’s challenge to get more people involved in the holiday.
The day’s events also included prayers, a 21-gun salute and taps by the Vinton County High School Marching Band.