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Focus on Fostoria - June_2_04

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Fostoria Focus - June 2, 2004


Fostorians Honor Their Veterans and Dedicate
Chapel on Memorial Day

By Leonard Skonecki

"It couldn't have been done without the effort of every single person in this community. It took a lot of work and it took a lot of money and this town came through like champs." – former Seneca County Veteran of the Year Mike Marley.

"It" is the Veterans Memorial Chapel. After four years of planning and construction, the chapel was dedicated at Memorial Day services Monday at Fountain Cemetery.

"We, the great city of Fostoria, respect and honor our veterans, we do care and we are a grateful city," Mayor John Davoli said. "We not only say it. We show it with bricks and mortar."

The Veteran's Memorial Chapel began four years ago with a meeting held at the Black Cat to discuss a memorial to Fostoria's veterans. The chapel emerged as the city confronted the need to replace the cemetery office near the podium.

The project was formally announced on Memorial Day 2002. Ground was broken Memorial Day 2003. It was dedicated this Memorial Day, in the midst of Fostoria's sesquicentennial year.

Davoli said the project was shepherded to completion by the Veteran's Chapel Committee.

"It's been," he said, "my pleasure, my privilege and my honor to work with these fine individuals."

The committee members are Art Allison, Cliff Cockie, Bob Dawson, Tom Evans, Mike Marley, Bruce Nolan, Arnie Sayre, Dave Short, Dennis Smith, Leonard Skonecki, Rick Steve, Ron Thompson, Rich Waldron and Bob Tindall.

"The people I want to thank the most is you, the people of this community who got behind this project and supported it," Davoli said.

Nine flags were posted in the chapel – the American flag, Ohio, Fostoria, Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force and IA/POW. City workers were present in force. The Fostoria Fire Department draped a 15-by-25 foot American flag from the deployed ladder of Truck 94.

Others present were Steve Raitch of Peterman Associates who designed the chapel and Glen Gutenbert of Studer-Obringer, the construction contractor, and Greg Smith of Fostoria Monument who made the memorial pavers.

Linda Radcliff of R&L Stained Glass and Dean Mosier, Samantha Sayre and John Cockie, who designed the chapel's 15 foot high window were recognized. The window depicts a soldier kneeling next to a rifle thrust into the ground by its bayonet.

The window was funded by Harrold-Florianna, Hoening and Mann-Hare Funeral Homes and the Fostoria woman's Club.

A helmet and dog tags hang from the rifle and a pair of boots sit next to it. Above the scene flutters an American flag. Beneath, it reads "All Gave Some, Some Gave All."

Civil War reenactors representing the 121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry 9th Ohio Independent Battery sponsored by the Marion County Historical Society fired the ceremonial volley to officially open chapel. Then the doors were opened and the 500 people in attendance toured the chapel.

All four of the veterans posts and the Moose Lodge of Fostoria are also contributing the proceeds of their charitable fund-raising to the chapel.

American Legion Commander Art Allison, master of ceremonies, was just ready to commence the regular Memorial Day services when two F-16's of the Ohio Air National Guard made a flyover.

"Wasn't that flyover at the perfect time? He asked.

The featured speaker was James "Mac" McAuliffe, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, 1970-90. Since 1991, "Mac," as he's known, has been a Seneca County Veterans Service Officer.

He said it was his first Memorial Day in Fostoria.

"You all know how to do this," he said.

"The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor the people who h ave served and who are no longer with us ...

"I've walked through this cemetery and St. Wendelin's and I'm amazed at the number of bronze plaques and flag holders that I see," he said. "Every one of those represents a man or woman who put his or her life on hold to serve his or her country. Every generation has given some it its best to serve this country."

The program also included the placing of wreaths, musical selections by the Fostoria Community Band and Danny Opperman and the reading of the names of members of Fostoria's veterans organizations who have died in the last year.

A loyal presence of the podium for over 30 Memorial Days was missing this year. Bill Parsons who read the "Veterans Prayer" and the poem "In Flanders Field" died recently.

Monday, his son, Chuck, a member of Fostoria's Sons of the American Legion, wearing his father's VFW cap tucked in his belt, did those readings.

"I was very honored," Chuck said. "When we were kids, Memorial Day was the big thing. We didn't do anything until the services were over with."

Last Memorial Day, Jim Kuhn, Fostoria's oldest veteran, turned the first shovelful of ground.

"Kuhnie," 91, said, "It's beautiful, a beautiful thing for Fostoria."

Then he added with characteristic good humor, "I'm glad I was able to walk through it instead of being carried into it."

Fostoria's veteran, post commanders thought the same.

"While it was work and a lot of work and a lot of hard work, it was fun and to see the culmination today with the opening of the chapel, it's just awesome," American Legion Commander Art Allison said. "That's the only word I can use."

Arnie Sayre, commander of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the chapel is something that will benefit families for years to come.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this. The committee was great. It was a long time getting to where it's at now," he said. "But as we look at it and know it's going to sand for a lifetime, I'm just very proud to be a part of it."

The way everyone, from the veterans to the community to the city to local organizations, pulled together is what impressed VFW Commander Bruce Nolan.

"I thought it was a great project. It was a great bunch of guys to work with, " he said. "It's what the people of Fostoria did that I'm so proud of."

That was a thought echoed by Ron Thompson, AMVETS commander.

"I'm glad to get to work with such a bunch of good guys," he said. "Everything worked out great and I'm just very proud of what we did."

"Mac" spoke about the veterans who never had the chance to grow old.

"Some of them didn't make it home. They died in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, places all over the world. Some of them have died in what we refer to as times of peace," he said.

"I'm looking at 52 years old in September and, honest to God, I do not think this country has been at peace since the day I was born," he said. "I hope some day we will see that."

Peace, and the liberty without which there is no true peace, was the hope of evey American veteran who lies in Fountain and St. Wendelin Cemeteries and cemeteries at home and abroad.

It is their service in that pursuit that the Fostoria Veterans Memorial Chapel was built to honor.

 

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