VANCEBURG — Reverence was given and respect was paid by citizens of Lewis County for the lost and the sacrifice.
A memorial ceremony commemorating the lives lost during the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the service of first responders and the military was held on the front lawn of the Lewis County courthouse Tuesday morning. Several people gathered around Second Street in Vanceburg to listen to the event’s speakers and pay respect for those who serve to protect the public.
Chaplain for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, John Byard, began the memorial by referencing the story from the book of Joshua about the 12 memorial stones gathered to memorialize the Israelite’s journey across the Jordan River. Byard likened this ceremony, and other memorials like it, to that of the stones.
“That’s why we’re gathered,” Byard said, “so that one day when our children and our children’s children ask us, ‘what are these stones for, what are those stones in New York City for?’ Then we can tell them, that we have what we have because of the precious lives that were given in order to provide for us.”
A moment of silence and prayer was led by Rev. Tom Cox of Vanceburg Christian Church, followed by the presentation of colors by the Lewis County JROTC and a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Essays written by several students from Lewis County High School were read to the crowd.
Judge-Executive Todd Ruckel spoke to the crowd, giving thanks to first responders and those in the military as well as recognizing the few World War II veterans still left in Lewis County. Of the five Ruckel said are known to still be alive in the county, three were present for the ceremony.
A proclamation was given to the three veterans by the county including citations by the state, given by State Rep. Rocky Adkins. Sanford J. McCaine, Arthur Mart Dummitt and Forrest Q. Cooper received standing ovations from the crowd and elected officials alike for their service to their country. Flags of Honor were also given to the three men by members of Woodmen of the World.
“This is Patriot Day,” Adkins said. “This is Patriot Day when we recognize that the toughest struggles of our nation is what has made this the greatest nation. We must always remember that freedom is not free — tremendous sacrifice has been made for generations to give us the ability to assemble here this morning in freedom, in hope and opportunity.”
John LaRowe, Kentucky field representative for the National Rifle Association who has an extensive career in the military, also spoke during the ceremony. LaRowe said he was going to go a little off script, and remarked on the differences in generations between the World War II era and now.
“As I was sitting here watching the ceremony so far, I noticed such a stark contrast between our greatest generation’s time and our time today, what we’ve become as Americans,” he said. “The response that these gentlemen, the call that they heeded when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor was heeded by their entire generation. Everyone was involved, one way or another, in the war effort then — fighting the Germans, fighting the Japanese, fighting the Italians. Our generation, a few answered.”
After closing remarks made by Ruckel and Adkins, the ceremony ended with attendees singing Amazing Grace, led by Ruthie Platt.