Memorial Day ceremony rings true, even while subdued by virus

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Since the first Memorial Day service at Veterans Park in 2005, the opportunity for members of the community to gather and remember the nation’s deceased military veterans has been an important part of the day. 

Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes, a virtual service was presented at 10 a.m. Monday on the local government cable stations as well as YouTube and Facebook.     

Williamson County Veterans Service Officer Jeff Vaughn worked with the media crew at WC-TV to put together a 45-minute video with clips from past year’s services. 

The program included an invocation, presentation of the colors, laying of the wreath, the national anthem, a 21-gun salute, and the bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace.” Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and County Mayor Rogers Anderson spoke before Vaughn’s recognition of veterans added to the memorial walkway. Also, a taped message from guest speaker Bob Ravener was part of the ceremony. 

Standing at a podium flanked by the American and Tennessee flags, Moore compared the fear and anxiety of the virus to the fear and anxiety soldiers experience during war and conflicts. With the virus and in battle, the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of leaving families behind and the lack of knowledge of an enemy and the power it possesses are similar, Moore said. 

“The American response is always to do what it takes to protect liberty,” Moore said. “It’s been there for generations. ... We honor all those now gone, all those who made the cause of America their supreme choice.” 

Anderson spoke of the courage and sacrifices of the “ordinary men and women” who became “great individuals.” They were loyal, honest, duty-bound, respectful and selfless in service and personal courage. 

“This is a time to think of the young lives cut short — they were wives and husbands; think of the children growing up without their father or mother and the parents who buried their children,” he said. “This is a time to show overwhelming gratitude for the brave soldier who put country before self. As a veteran, my heart goes out especially to those whose loved ones did not come home.” 

Anderson reminded viewers that those men and women died to protect what we, as Americans, hold most dear. 

“We’re here not to mourn but to rejoice, honor and pray for the fallen soldiers,” he added. 

Ravener spoke of the nation’s 240-year history of sacrifice, the 60 million who answered the call of duty since the Revolutionary War and the more than one million who “died wearing the military uniform to preserve a way of life.”  

Drawing from his own family tree, Ravener provided two centuries of family and state military history and sacrifice. Cpl. Francis P Putz, his great uncle, was 22 when he was killed on Sept. 29, 1918, in France, near the Flanders area during a battle that led to the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and a citation for gallantry in action.   

Mary Coan Rielly Ravener was one of 300 women to enter the Marine Corps during World War I after all the eligible men were already serving. 

2Lt. Neal M. Lenti, a B-24 navigator with the U.S. Army Air Force, was killed in action on Oct. 8, 1943. He was 23 and left behind a wife and young son.  

Almost a dozen members of the Ravener family responded to the call of duty, including Bob Ravener, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, was a submarine officer and battalion commander.

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