Residents across Ashtabula County shrugged off winter-like weather Monday to salute the area’s military veterans.
Rain didn’t dampen Veterans’ Day ceremonies, but strong, cold winds put some extra snap into flags and prompted spectators to huddle inside parkas. Here’s a look at some of the local ceremonies:
The Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Park honored the country’s veterans under cloudy skies and a chilly 45 degrees Monday.
Hector Martinez played the “Call to Colors” and Lakeside High School junior Cassie Dunn, 16, sang the National Anthem. The Rev. Michael Meranda from Messiah Lutheran Church said an opening prayer.
The Rev. Robert Leonard, a Marine Corps League member, said it was a special day because not only was it Veterans Day, but also Martinez’s 86th birthday. The 50 or so people in attendance applauded Martinez.
Leonard then spoke on “Words from the Grave,” a short talk about all veterans’ beliefs. He also pointed out that all of the World War I veterans have “gone to their final rest” on this Veterans Day, and vowed, “We won’t let (World War I) be a fading memory.”
Cassie sang “America the Beautiful” and Meranda closed the ceremony with a prayer for peace.
The Honor Guard consisted of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 943 and American Legion Post 103 members.
In the Buckeye Local School District, several veterans spoke at Ridgeview Elementary School, including World War II veteran John Pildner, 87, of Ashtabula, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge — one of the bloodiest battles the United States was involved in during the war.
Pildner served in the U.S. Infantry Anti-Tank Company 290th. Their job was to sweep for mines and disarm the mines. It was an exceptionally snowy winter and very cold, he said.
“We lost 300 men taking just one hill,” he said.
Since the war, Pildner has been recognized for his bravery, and along the way, he even raised the American flag on the USS Arizona on Jan. 22, 2011. But now, the French people have let the soldiers know their sacrifices are appreciated.
Pildner recently was honored with France’s highest military award, the Legion of Honor. The French and American soldiers fought side-by-side from the trenches of Champagne to the beaches of Normandy.
Students at Ridgeview invited Pildner to come back to talk on Friday.