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Ripley youth learns true meaning of Memorial Day

June 6, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

RIPLEY - So many of today's young people know Memorial Day as an opportunity for a weekend of picnics, parades, and great shopping deals. Master Sergeant Robert McIntosh and his fellow veterans made sure on Friday that the youth of Ripley know better.

McIntosh, along with fellow town council member John Hamels, and veterans from all branches of the military, gathered at Ripley's Veterans' Memorial to honor not only those who received awards for valiant service, but especially to remember those killed in action. Also present were students from the elementary school, Ripley residents and members of the town council.

" Memorial Day itself is to pay respect and honor to those killed in action, no matter where it happened," Mcintosh said. "Today's event and the entire memorial is for all of you sitting on the grass," referring to the children.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Ripley student Anyah Carson reads a description of the Medal of Honor as Master Sergeant Robert McIntosh looks on.

The highlight of Friday's event was the unveiling of two veterans of valor signs that will become a permanent part of the memorial. One sign lists the members of the military who have received a medal of valor. The second sign, which hangs in the center of the obelisk, lists the names of the sixteen men killed in action from World War I through the Vietnam War.

McIntosh spearheaded efforts to have these signs created and installed. It was not an easy achievement. Obtaining funds for the project was a major obstacle, McIntosh said. Also, countless hours were spent authenticating the information on the signs.

"For every name that's up there, I personally validated the award. Without actual proof that a veteran received the award, their name is not up there," he said.

McIntosh said the project was important to him so the meaning of Memorial Day would not be lost. "Most of the kids in school have relatives on those signs. It's a sad fact of reality that they no longer have an adequate explanation of Memorial Day," McIntosh said.

McIntosh said he was "humbled and honored" to see the project come to completion. Also though efforts led by McIntosh, Ripley was recently designated a "Purple Heart Town." It is the first town in Chautauqua County to receive this title.

Students from Ripley Central School were not just spectators in the event. Pupils in grades 3 through 6 made posters of gratitude, which were displayed along the sidewalk. Members of the 6th Grade researched various military awards and shared their findings with those assembled for the occasion.

Anyah Carson described the Medal of Honor, which is the United States' highest military honor, and Master Sergeant McIntosh announced that John Haight received this award in 1888.

Krista Mcintosh explained the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the second highest military award. There are no known recipients of this award from Ripley, McIntosh said. Emily Hawkins told the crowd about the Distinguished Service Medal, which Mcintosh said was bestowed on Orrin Grover.

Tierney Tolon described the Silver Star Medal which is the third highest military combat decoration that can be awarded. Mcintosh announced that Rexford Baldwin and Leo Morrin had received this honor, with Morrin being a two time recipient.

Kentin Eddy explained the Legion of Merit which was first awarded in 1942, and Kennedy Northrup told the audience about the Distinguished Flying Cross which was bestowed on Calvin Baldwin, Rexford Baldwin, Robert Galbraith and Ralph McCutcheon, according to McIntosh.

Jasmine Hawkins explained the Bronze Star Medal; Lawson Ormsby described the Air Medal; and Stephanie Orton reported on the Purple Heart Each of these awards have many recipients from Ripley.

Three of the veterans came forward to explain the meaning of the United States flag and the Ripley Chorus sang the National Anthem after the flag was raised. John Hamels, who co-chaired the veterans' valor sign project with McIntosh, led those assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ripley Central School Curriculum Specialist Erin Wheeler concluded the ceremony, telling the audience that "At Ripley elementary gratitude is a character strength we work to develop." "We are very thankful to have this memorial It is a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy were not free."

To conclude all of the school children joined in a shout of "Thank you" to " pay tribute to the men and women of the community who, as McIntosh put it: "Fought for the preservation of our way of life."

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Ripley student Anyah Carson reads a description of the Medal of Honor as Master Sergeant Robert McIntosh looks on.

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Ripley student Kentin Eddy describes the Legion of Merit award.

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Ripley veterans gather in front of the Veterans Memorial during a service Friday.

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A sign honoring Ripley veterans who received the Bronze star, the Air Award or a Purple Heart was unveiled in a memorial service Friday.

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A plaque commemorating 16 servicemen from Ripley killed in action was unveiled at a memorial service Friday.



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