As a very young boy I remember going to my Grandparents home in New Richmond.
The old house is no longer standing but it once stood behind where Frisch’s Restaurant is today. It was a very old two story house with a large front porch. Today, we refer to this type of house as having character but there was always one thing special that caught my eye when visiting and it wasn’t the architecture style of the house. It was simply a picture of a man in a uniform that was hanging in the front room.
The picture frame was also different since it was quite large and had U.S. Flags designed into the frame. I remember asking my Grandmother McFarland about the picture and she explained the man was her son Paul who served during WWII but never made it home.
I remember Grandmother gently putting her hand on the picture while talking to me. As a young boy I could not begin to truly appreciate the sacrifice my Uncle Paul had made for me yet I did feel sad but strangely more for my Grandmother than for my Uncle. Little did I know that the very same picture and frame would be hanging in my office some 50 plus years later.
Today that same picture does hang in my office and I look at it every day. Along with this special picture several other pictures of my family members hang in my office and each have a common bond. The family member are also in military uniform and their young image is frozen in time.
Some of those family members are no longer with us while the others are now well into their years. On those rare occasions when some of those individuals see their picture it no doubt brings back many memories of a different time and place when they proudly served their country. Emotions range from a broad smile to a tear in their eye with an accompanying faraway look. While their body may no longer be lean and mean and lack the sense of invincibility they once had, I can still see in each of their eyes a sense of great pride that is a common bond for all that serve in uniform.
In the reception area of our office we have several other pictures of men from Clermont County that have been inducted into the Ohio Veterans or Military Hall of Fame. Each of these men are humble and will be the first to say they are not special but as you can imagine, being inducted brings with it quite a story and life experience. Each inductee will always put those that have made the ultimate sacrifice before them. They are great examples of ordinary people doing exceptional work for their country.
On the opposite wall also located in the reception area for all to see are twelve pictures that are similar yet different than all the others. The pictures are very recent and father time has not yet passed far enough along for the pictures to be viewed in quite the same way as those that are much older.
You see these twelve young men have been lost during our current wars. They are Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin, Lance Cpl. Bryan N. Taylor, Specialist Gregory James Missman, Staff Sgt. Chuck Kiser, Lance Cpl. Billy D. Spencer, Captain David Seth Mitchell, Lance Cpl. Nick Erdy, Sgt. Phillip McNeill, Specialist Jacob P. Dohrenwend, Captain Tyler B. Swisher, Staff Sgt. Tony Wojciechowski and Specialist Joseph Bauer.
When I look at them it’s easier for me to imagine each of them being alive and well and living a normal and happy life. Since these warriors are from the current generation the pain and sadness is still very fresh in our minds that in turn brings the true sacrifice of war clearly into the here and now.
We should never forget those men and women in uniform that have given their all past and present and we must make certain to keep each story and face alive. Just think about how each of us have continued to live our life’s in this blessed country while theirs was cut short for reasons that only our creator knows.
As I experienced with my Grandmother McFarland, someday another young relative of one of those twelve brave men may ask a family member who the person is in the picture hanging on the wall. I can imagine the family member touching the picture while explaining how the young warrior was special and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. I have no doubt that as with me the picture will leave a lasting impression on that young person while keeping the memory alive.
I pray that God will protect our country and our men and women in uniform.
Danny D. Bare is the Executive Director of the Clermont County Veterans Commission and a Vietnam combat veteran.