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Memorial Day: 'I call them heroes'

small American flags at the base of a statue
Tana Weingartner
People placed small American Flags at the base of the Vietnam Veterans memorial in Eden Park on Monday, May 27, 2024.

The annual Memorial Day ceremony in Eden Park is a decades-old tradition conducted by the members of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 10.

Former and current service members gathered with family and loved ones to remember those who have died in service to the country. While there were some Korean and post-Vietnam-era veterans, the bulk of those in attendance stood to be recognized when the Vietnam War era was announced.

This year's guest speaker was Jean Wilson, the first female commander to serve the Department of Ohio, American Legion. She's also served on the Hamilton County Veterans Service Commission and is currently that board's president, among her many accolades.

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Wilson spoke briefly on the theme of remembering all who have fallen in service throughout the country's history.

"In tens to thousands of homes, a carefully folded and lovingly preserved American flag rests in a place of honor, a token of a loved one's sacrifice for their country," she said. "It is altogether fitting that we celebrate Memorial Day; the freedom that has been won and sustained by those fallen heroes.

"Yes, I call them heroes. All who died wearing the uniform the United States Armed Forces are undeniably heroes."

Scroll below to see images from Monday's event.

"Ask anyone who's lost a loved one serving their country, if their son or daughter was a hero; those who answered their country's call and put themselves in harm's way; who put the welfare of their own comrades ahead of their own safety; who placed duty ahead of personal interests," she continued. "They indeed are heroes.

"We honor them today, and know that their sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten."

She encouraged those in attendance to continue to call for a full accounting of all those who were missing in action or prisoners of war.

The ceremony concluded with a moment in which people were invited to speak aloud the names of their fallen loved ones. Though hesitant at first, soon the names of men and women were called out and honored, some as tears glistened in the speakers' eyes.

Held each year at the Vietnam Veterans memorial across from the Eden Park Overlook, the event includes a flag raising, posting of service flags, honor wreaths, a flag tribute, a 21-gun salute, a guest speaker, and music provided by the University of Cincinnati Bearcat Bands and Alumni Band. The chapter also recognizes recipients of its annual scholarship program.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.