Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony Honors Past And Present Vets

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For the McGuire family, Memorial Day is more than a day of remembrance. It’s a day to celebrate their family.

“It’s important for me to have my children recognize what this day means,” said Mistie McGuire, of Athens.

Her husband, Todd McGuire, is a 25-year member of the Ohio Air National Guard 121st Air Refueling Wing stationed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base. He started because he felt compelled to serve, and as part of the aircraft maintenance unit for Ohio University, he could learn his trade on and off duty.

“I was active duty for nine years but after that I felt that it was still necessary,” Todd McGuire said. “There’s still a lot of good work left to do.”

Todd McGuire was one of many who turned out for the Athens Memorial Day parade, along with a ceremony at West Union Cemetery.

At the annual celebration at the cemetery, veterans and their families gathered around the flag in the center of the cemetery, listening to the Athens High School band play patriotic songs, and unflinchingly saluting while the honor guard fired a gun salute.

Keynote speaker Kenneth Kerr didn’t speak of his time in South Vietnam, or about any of his four years as a naval officer on the USS Corry, DD 817.

Instead, the retired businessman and longtime Athens resident spoke of local efforts to support the troops and veterans.

“It’s important to thank all the local military clubs for all they do,” Kerr said.

Kerr recited part of the poem “In Flanders Field,” a poem written about WWI, and asked that everyone present observe the national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m.

For Todd McGuire, attending the festivities of the day was important for him not only because of his experience, but to make sure his three girls knew what sacrifice and love of country truly was. His 15-year-old daughter, Emersynn, said she was proud to have a father who served.

“There aren’t many military families in Athens, or many that stay very long,” Emersynn McGuire said. “When the government shut down, he didn’t know if he’d be able to stay in (the national guard), and I’m glad he got to.”