In spite of the first taste of cold November weather, a crowd gathered at the monument on Thursday, Nov. 10 to remember those who have served and those who are still serving. With Veterans Day a school holiday, this year the Ripley Veterans’ Roll of Honor took place a day early in order to include the town’s high school students in the ceremony.
“I am incredibly grateful for that,” Commander of the Westfield VFW Bob McIntosh, MSgt. USMC, retired, and Master of Ceremony said.
In addition to the usual program, this year saw the lists of names displayed at the monument updated for the first time in two years by the Honor Guard and Ripley high school students, three of whom were winners of the Voice of Democracy contest which this year asked the question, “Is there pride in our military?” Stan Harris read the Oath of Enlistment, which is also engraved in the bricks of the monument, as the lists were exchanged.
At the time of the original printing of the lists, there were 863 names of service members from Ripley. This year, there were over 940 names on those lists.
“That’s a fairly significant number if you think about it,” McIntosh said, noting it is nearly half the current population of Ripley.
“It took an awful lot of dedication and work to this,” McIntosh said. “I hope you guys realize it was for you guys,” he said to the students.
In addition to the high school students, pre-kindergarten students were also on hand for the ceremony since their theme for the week was stars. The solemnity of all the students showed just how much attention they were all paying to the ceremony at hand.
“They’re just a great group of kids,” Ripley Superintendent Karen Krause said.
The dedication ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem before the American flag was lowered to half staff. One of Ripley Central School’s social studies teachers explained why the flag was being lowered — in honor and recognition of those who have fought and those who are fighting, those who have served and those who are serving, those who have died and those who are living. It was also explained that whenever a flag is at half staff at a state building, it means a military member from the state was killed in action.
Albert Carvallo, Chaplain and member of VFW Post No. 2769 gave the invocation, the Brocton American Legion presented a 21 gun salute and a Ripley VFW Commander Dave Bower laid a wreath at the monument in honor of the blue and gold star families — a blue star family has a member serving in the military and a gold star family has lost a member who was serving in the military. Taps was then played. Taps originated in the Civil War era and is adapted from a French song, “Lights out.” It has been used in military funerals since 1891.
After the ceremony, McIntosh said he was glad the students could be a part of the ceremony this year.
“It’s actually a teaching tool and a reminder to those young folks that an awful lot of guys were willing to stand in harms way so that they have a school to go to,” he said. “It’s not a monument to the glory of war, it’s a reminder of what it takes to enjoy the lifestyle that we have.”
“What better way (to teach the students) than to include them in the ceremony on Veteran’s Day,” Krause said, agreeing that the monument is a teaching tool which helps bring up honor and service. “The best teacher is experience.”
The monument, which stands on Route 20 in front of Ripley Central School, was conceptualized in 2006 and was dedicated on Veteran’s Day in 2008 after approval from the Town of Ripley Board and the Ripley Board of Education. Krause was a member of the committee which came up with the idea for a monument along with Roger Testrake, Bower and Robert Galbraith.
“It was truly a community effort; everybody pitched in,” Krause said. “Ripley as a community is very proud of their veterans.”
The list of names will be updated in another four years and anyone who has a name to add or additional information such as biographies or pictures about a person already on the list can visit www.Ripleyveterans.org'>www.Ripleyveterans.org.
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Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Honor Guard members and Ripley High School students replace lists of service men and women, past and present, from Ripley Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Ripley Veterans’ Roll of Honor during a dedication ceremony for Veteran’s Day.