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Appreciation offered for service of veterans

Harold Kerr Post unveils recognition program

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FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Susan Cronkleton, front right, presents World War II, Korea and Vietnam veteran Bill Guthrie with a commemorative coin Saturday at a veteran’s appreciation event at American Legion Harold Kerr Post 173, 120 Colton Ave. ABOVE: Colors are placed Saturday at the outset of the observance. BELOW: Stephen Hollen, dressed in period attire, was the keynote speaker at the event(EXAMINER PHOTOS | NATE SMITH)

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As upward of 80 local veterans were being honored Saturday, officers with the American Legion Harold Kerr Post 173, 120 Colton Ave., were unveiling a new initiative to honor local servicemen and servicewomen in an even more public way.

Just as they did last year, veterans on hand for the second Logan County Veteran Appreciation Day received a special coin commemorating their service to America.

Susan Cronkleton, who organized the event, says she hopes the ceremony and handing out the challenge coins will become an annual practice.

“The coins can be something our veterans collect each year,” she said. “Like a set.”

For Mrs. Cronkleton, the event is personal.

“My father served in Korea,” she said. “He died when I was eight (from a non-war related injury) and this is how I want to honor him.”

Veterans from all military branches who served as far back as World War II were recognized.

At least one veteran served in multiple conflicts.  

Bill Guthrie, of rural Bellefontaine, served 27 years in the Army. He is a veteran of World War II and of the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.

The large crowd got a good chuckle as Mr. Guthrie returned to his seat after receiving his coin for serving in Korea, only to turn right around and head back to the front of the room to receive his coin for his service in Vietnam.

It’s people like Mr. Guthrie who make this country great, said keynote speaker Stephen Hollen, who donned colonial garb for his speech.

He told the story of Nathan Hale Brown, an American spy who was captured and killed during the American Revolution.

“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” Mr. Hollen said, quoting the famous martyr. “All these veterans here today feel the same.

“And that’s what makes America great.”

Mr. Hollen’s speech was personal, too. He talked about his son, who is preparing to serve six months monitoring a prison in Afghanistan.

“When you think about your son or daughter serving, you don’t think about them serving in harm’s way, but they do everyday,” he said. “The men and women who have stood in harm’s way, have stood there for good reason.”

Russ Strayer, vice-commander with the American Legion Post 173, announced a new recognition program to honor those who have served in harm’s way.

The legion will form a committee to select Logan County veterans worthy of recognition based on their military service and the contribution they have made to community and country.

A four-by-six-foot American flag will be flown, “from a prominent position in the county for a period of eight hours,” Mr. Strayer said. After it’s taken down, it will be presented along with a certificate of authenticity to the veteran or his/her family.

The newly-formed committee will solicit applications from either veterans, their family or a third party. The applications will be judged based on a predetermined point system. Commemorative flags will be presented at least four times each year on: Feb. 19, Iwo Jima Day; June 6, D-Day; Sept. 11, Patriot Day; and Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day.

Interested veterans or their families should contact the American Legion, 592-4891, for more information.

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