By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — Darke Countians have always been good about honoring and recognizing those that have served our country through military service. The Darke County Fair is a prime example of how this area reveres its veterans.
On Wednesday, the Great Darke County Fair honored those that are much greater than the fair itself – those that have served or are still serving. Not only were veterans and active duty military admitted to the fair at no cost, a special ceremony was held in front of the Grandstand to pay homage to their selfless service.
Service organizations participating in the event were Ansonia American Legion Post 353, Versailles American Legion Post 343 and VFW Post 3849 and auxiliary, Osgood American Legion Post 588, Hollansburg American Legion Post 708, New Madison American Legion Post 235, Greenville American Legion Post 140, North Star American Legion Post 174, Vietnam veterans and Daughters of the American Revolution.
Jim Kammer, outgoing Darke County Commander of the American Legion, emceed the event.
Pastor George Glaze, of Beech Grove Church of the Brethren and member of the Hollansburg American Legion Post 708, gave the invocation and benediction. Mackinzie Billenstein, Ansonia Middle School student, sang the National Anthem. Also participating was Del Braund Jr. who played the bagpipes when the marching units were dismissed.
The audience listened intently to guest speaker Jason Rue, Ohio American Legion Department 1st Vice Commander. Rue, a Marine Corps reservist from 1994 to 2000 and Ohio Army National Guard from 2005 to 2019, served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rue said, “We are here today to honor our fallen brethren. Let us remember what they died for. Let us remember that tyrannical regimes have been toppled and genocide stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb.”
He shared a story from April 4, 2012 that he said he will remember forever. It was on that day that he witnessed three soldiers died in Afghanistan due to a motorcycle that was turned into a vehicle born improvised explosive device. “Three people whom I worked and trained with were taken from us. Many others were severely injured. Events like these lead to memories some people cannot bear.” He pointed out veteran suicide is why he is active in the American Legion and other service organizations he belongs to.
“Although I sent three people home that day from Afghanistan, I have lost many more since returning home to veteran suicide. These people are just as much as heroes as those who died overseas. It is our duty to keep an eye on them and ensure this does not continue to happen,” said Rue. He shared the reason service organizations exist is to keep give veterans an outlet and someone to talk to that have had some of the same experiences.
He concluded by saying, “It is okay to talk about suicide.”
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].