During the armed conflicts of war, American soldiers face an unusually tough task, the guest speaker said as she honored service men and women during the Wapakoneta Memorial Day ceremony held at Veterans Memorial Park.
Auglaize County Veterans Service Office Director Lynne Skaggs, who served in the U.S. Army along with her husband, Todd, said he recently graduated college with his bachelor’s degree and received a book, Weird History 101, for his achievement.
She told the more than 100 people gathered that she started reading one of the chapters about being friendly with the enemy.
“War is a strange thing. Soldiers are told to go out, kill the enemy out of duty to their country or out of belief for a cause, but they are not supposed to make it personal even though they have to watch their friends get killed before their eyes or endure intense suffering,” Skaggs read as a strong wind kept small flags snapping at attention. “Once they capture an enemy soldier they should not abuse or mistreat them in any way.Soldiers are not supposed to be vengeful.
“What an incredible responsibility we task these young men and women with,” she said. “Our veterans return home and we ask these heroes to lay down their training, put aside what has been asked of them and rejoin society.”
Skaggs said they are reintegrated with civilians who do not follow the code of honor of the armed forces and they often do not understand the loss of camaraderie that the veteran has experienced in leaving the service.
She challenged the people in attendance “to show them support, help them transition home, be patient, be kind, be generous and watch their back, point them in the right direction, bring them home to camaraderie.”
She encouraged those standing in front of the memorials to the wars and conflicts to help them find their local service organizations, the support net set up for them and their local Veterans Services Office.
“Now not every veteran will have the same needs,” Skaggs said. “Some may need medical care, while others will need a job; some may be college bound, while others may be homeless.
“Like other walks of life, veterans come in all shapes and sizes, choosing vastly different avenues,” she said. “Some will have left a boy and come home a man. Some come home needing a soft place to land and place to get back on their feet, but most, if not all, will come home changed.”
Two members of the service from Wapakoneta participated in laying wreaths at the two memorials at Veterans Memorial Park.
Specialist Andrea Stauffer and Sgt. Travis Copeland placed a wreath at the memorial dedicated to the wars including World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War and another wreath at a memorial dedicated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“This was an honor, a very big honor,” said Stauffer, who is on a two-week leave. “I got to be a part of the presentation of the Afghanistan and Iraq Memorial last year, so it is just great to be a part of it.”
The daughter of Ginger Kiefer is serving as a medic in Bahrain.
“I decided to serve my country because a lot in my family have served and I decided it was the right thing to do for me,” Stauffer said.
The 26-year-old Copeland, who served in 2009 and 2010 in Iraq and in 2011 and 2012 in Afghanistan, decided on the military for similar reasons.
“I joined the military because the military was the only thing I could decide on that I really wanted to do since I was little,” the son of Grace and Ted Copeland said. “My father still is in the service. It was just the career for me.”
Taking part in Monday’s ceremony and laying the wreaths at the memorials, Copeland said was something he looked forward to doing.
“It means a lot to me,” Copeland said. “You make a lot of memories in the service, but the biggest is to help your brothers and sisters that you serve with to get to come home and to honor those that didn’t make it home makes this a big deal.
“It is obviously significant to me because of what the wreath symbolizes,” he said. “It means a lot to me to be asked to do that for the community.”