A large crowd filled the grandstands at the Clermont County Fairgrounds to pay tribute to area veterans, current military personnel and their families Thursday, July 30.
The event was organized by Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud during the fair to show support to the American military both past and present.
“I want to welcome everyone,” said Proud. “We have a number of veterans with us here tonight and I want to urge everyone to acknowledge those veterans and thank them for their service to our country.”
Veterans from various wars were invited to lead the crowd in the pledge to the flag as the colors were presented by the Marine Leatherneck Detachment 693 and the Marine Recruiting Center from Eastgate. Those who participated in leading the pledge were, Joe Whitt, World War II; Ralph Shepherd, Korean War; Jack Haigwood, Vietnam; Mark Coyle, Desert Storm and Jeff Fiely, Global War on Terror.
All veterans and military personnel were asked to stand and were greeted with applause. In addition to recognizing the military, the families of veterans were also acknowledged.
Kim Pellington, one of the founders of the "Whole In My Heart" support group for families of military personnel spoke about the experiences of waiting for a loved one to return.
"While my son was serving in Iraq, I was approached by Bob Proud and asked to help start a support group for military families in the county," said Pellington. "We already have 132 families in our group and we haven't even scratched the surface. No one knows the problems that military families go through except other military families. We keep our phones with us all the time and are often fearful that we will miss a call because it may be the last call we ever have from our loved one. There are no classes to help prepare the families who are left behind. Our faith in God is the rock and foundation that we stand on."
Pellington told the crowd that the "Whole In My Heart" military support group is helping to restore wholeness to military families and offers a connection that says I understand what you are going through.
"Thank you Clermont County commissioners for recognizing our loved ones and showing support for them while they are serving," said Pellington. "Thank you Clermont County Veterans Service Center and the Clermont County Sheriff's Department for honoring our families. You are all a piece of the solid rock that we stand on. All of these things make us proud to be part of this county."
Pellington invited all families and loved ones of military personnel to join the "Whole In My Heart" military support group. The group meets 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Union Township Civic Center, 4350 Aicholtz Road, in Cincinnati.
The keynote speaker for the event was Colonel Danny Bubp, USMC retired and currently the State Representative serving Ohio's 88th District. Bubp served as a liaison officer to the Governor of Anbar Province in Ramadi, Iraq from January 2008 to November 2008.
"As of July 2009, we have lost 40 troops in Afghanistan," said Bubp. "Everyone who joins the military now knows that they could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. We know that some of them will go through difficult times, that is the price of freedom. I wish every county in Ohio would honor their veterans like Clermont County does."
Bupb read a list of names of those military personnel from Clermont County who died in Iraq to protect the freedom experienced in the United States of America.
"This county has been especially hard hit in the war on terrorism. Since 2004, nine young men with local ties have paid the ultimate price for freedom. That is a high price to pay," said Bubp. "Tonight we are here with a number of heroes from previous wars and I want to thank each of you for what you have done. May God continue to bless you and may God bless the USA."
During the salute, Vietnam veteran Ace Gilbert led the invocation and concluded with the benediction. Several songs were performed by Todd Kritzwiser.