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Community gathers to honor fallen veterans on Memorial Day

Gazette - 5/27/2024

May 27—SOLON — Community members gathered together Monday morning in Solon to remember fallen veterans in a show of patriotism before going off to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

"We are pretty wrapped up in our busy lives these days, and forget the real meaning of Memorial Day, so it makes me happy when I see a good turnout here," said Adam Hopp, the commander of the Solon American Legion.

The Solon legion hosted the event Monday at 9 a.m. at the Solon Veteran's Memorial. Community members gathered for a short ceremony that involved patriotic music from the Solon High School band with short speeches from band members about their veteran family members who had inspired them.

A longer speech was prepared by U.S. Army Maj. Ceara Riggs, a member of the Solon Legion, but she was unable to attend the event due to a last minute Army transfer, so the speech was read by her father, Roy Riggs, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ceara Riggs, a professor at The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, wrote in her speech about the importance of remembering all soldiers who have fought in the American armed forces, even those whose names are not well-remembered.

She told the story of Dr. Mary Walker, a doctor who volunteered with the Union Army during the Civil War but was unable to join the army full-time as a surgeon because she was a woman. She was awarded a Medal of Honor for her work during the war, but it was rescinded two years before she died because she had never been a commissioned officer in military service. Sixty years later, in 1977, her Medal of Honor was restored.

"On Memorial Day, we honor those who died in service to their country. Not just those with graves set up at Arlington. Not just those on the rolls. But anyone who died in service to their country. Regardless of whether we know their names," Roy Riggs read Monday, from his daughter's written speech.

"We honor hundreds, maybe even thousands of unknown or unnamed, those who served their country even if they didn't get the recognition of a grave marker or Wikipedia page, or stories in history."

After the speeches and music, members of the Solon Legion performed a 21-gun salute for fallen officers and laid a wreath on the MIA stone at the Veterans Memorial, which lists the names of missing officers. Opening and closing prayers were offered by Solon American Legion Chaplain Doug Thompson.

"We do this to honor our fallen and to basically raise awareness, to give people the opportunity to honor our fallen," Hopp said about organizing the event. "What I would want to see in the future is more people attending services like this, and showing their gratitude for our freedoms."

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