By Jordan Puckett
A salute to all Clermont County veterans, troops, and families was held at the Clermont County fair Sunday July 21. The event began with a presentation of the colors by the Marine Corps League of Clermont County.
Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud, staunch supporter of veterans in Clermont County, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
After a prayer by retired Marine Ron Gibbs, the Pledge of Allegience led by Joe Johnston, National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans, and the singing of the national anthem by Nikea Davidson, new recruits were brought out to be sworn in by Congressman Lt. Col. Brad Wenstrup.
“America is the only place on Earth where it is possible to have the greatest fighting force in the world,” Wenstrup said, “and have that force made up of volunteers. The men and women that are about to make the commitment to serve us are doing so in the same way as those who took up arms to create this country. They do it voluntarily.”
“Know that as you go forward, the pride of the nation goes with you,” Wenstrup said to the recruits.
Wenstrup then led them in an oath to serve our nation proudly before congratulating them and welcoming them to the U.S. Military.
Platoon SGT Chris Cravens spoke to the audience as well. Cravens has served in Fallujah, Iraq in 2005, Ramadi, Iraq from 2006-07, and Kajaki, Afghanistan from 2011-12. He thanked them for their support and spoke about the care packages and how appreciated they are by recipients.
“Just for a minute when we open those boxes, we forget about the blood on our hands,” Cravens said. “We forget about the medevac that just took place, we forget about some of the chaos just for a minute.”
Family member of SSGT Chuck Kiser were also present. Kiser was killed in Iraq in 2004. His mother, Glenda Kiser, read a poem written for a son lost to war.
Howard Daugherty, director of Clermont County Veterans Service Commission, said a few words about his organization and to thank the veterans of Clermont County.
“I thank every veteran for their service,” he said. “We all do. Without you, I don’t know where we’d all be today. We wouldn’t be in Clermont County at these nice fairgrounds. I love you, we all love you. Thank you very much.”
Congressman Wenstrup served as the final speaker for the event.
“There is no greater honor than to be part of something greater than yourself,” Wenstrup said. “We live in a country where freedom has given us the ability to create our own story, to follow a path that we choose, not one that’s chosen for us… Only one percent of Americans have served in uniform, and their accomplishments have been amazing, as well as unmatched by the rest of the world.”
Wenstrup also spoke of Clermont County’s new recruits.
“As they carve out their chapter in history, they will invest in one another. They will be amazed to see that their journey will be about the lives that they touch, the message that they send, and the example that they set… They will come to know that they represent hope, that they represent a higher standard, and that they represent professionalism.”
“Thank you to all of you,” Wenstrup said, “past, present, and civilian, that have made changes in our world, often when no one else would.”
The event closed with the singing of “God Bless the USA” by Todd Kritzwiser and the playing of “Taps” by Roger Young.