In Oxford, a Memorial Day Remembrance Walk honors the fallen06/05/2022 11:18PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who are no longer with us. It is not “the unofficial first day of summer” as it has become known. Veterans and families see it more as a somber day. Surviving veterans remember those they fought side by side with, and those that didn’t make it home. Families who have lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and loved ones want to honor those who gave all.
This year, a committee planned a Remembrance Walk up Pine Street to the Oxford Cemetery to honor the fallen. The committee included Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Chris Grove, Oxford Area High School band director Erin Kauppila, Corporal Scott Brown of the Oxford Police Department, Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce president Dennis McCartney, Commander Robert Stewart Jr. of the Oxford American Legion Roy W. Gibson Post 535, Moonloop Photography owner Jim Coarse, Toot Sweets owner Debra Kline, Mayor Phil Harris, and Purple Heart recipient Jeff Sanders.
Hundreds joined the walk, including veterans, the Oxford High School Marching Band (and parents), Boy Scout Troop 44 , State Rep. John Lawrence, County Commissioner Josh Maxwell, and so many more.
Mayor Harris was pleased with the participation saying, “Due to COVID we spent the last two years doing a virtual event. We know that was appreciated by many all over the country. This year we wanted to make it something very special and fitting. The Remembrance Walk was a great idea. I was excited to see all those that joined in along the way. I feel it was a great way to continue to lift up and continue to support the Gold Star families.”
Sanders, a Marine Lance Corporal who lost part of his leg during the Iraqi War and received a Purple Heart, talked about the real meaning of the day.
“This event hit the right note for me,” he said. I was totally in favor of a Remembrance Walk for those we have lost. I was 9 ½ months in when I got injured.”
Sanders who doesn’t shy away from talking about his experience said, “The guy sitting across from me when I got hit never came home. Memorial Day is sacred to me. I don’t look at it as the official start to summer. We wake up every day in this country courtesy of those who never came home.”
Sanders walked up Pine Street and then got a lift back with Rep. Lawrence.
“We focused our attention on the day,” he said. We walked for the fallen. I was especially happy to see the parents of band members and the band members walking with us. I give props to the band.”
The community is always inspired by the American Legion’s ceremony in the cemetery, and as always watched that with great reverence.
There were the familiar faces of the veterans in the community such as Vernon Ringler, John Mosley, Spencer Andress, and John Orcutt, who have served in the American Legion Honor Guard.
New faces of younger veterans are stepping up to honor those no longer with us. And there was a first: Borough Council President Katherine Cloyd, who was the first woman to fire a rifle in the Honor Guard during a ceremony at Oxford Cemetery (She will scold this writer for pointing that out).
Oxford Area High School was represented by Zander Quinn, who delivered the Gettysburg Address, and Kay Reyburn, who delivered General Logan’s orders.
Lawrence also was a speaker who took time to honor the fallen.
And as always there are many volunteers throughout the community who placed hundreds of flags on the graves.
There were many younger participants this year who met at the Veterans Memorial at the Oxford Memorial Park. The memorial was the meeting place for groups and individuals wanting to join in the walk.
Walking in the midst of the crowd, conversations about loved ones lost, but remembered, could be heard. There were young students, scouts and band members who solemnly looked at the Veterans Memorial.
Oxford has always been a town proud of its fallen, proud of all of its veterans and always ready to honor them. The Memorial Day Remembrance Walk was yet another way for this patriotic town to remember, educate and honor the fallen and thank them for their freedoms.