PARKERSBURG -Community members and families of those who served and gave their lives for their country attended the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Sunset Memorial Gardens in south Parkersburg on Saturday.
All veterans, living and deceased, were honored and remembered during the service, which has been presented for more than 50 years at the cemetery on West Virginia 95.
The guest speaker for the event was Iraq War prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who spoke of her pride in being an American and West Virginian and her life dreams.
Jessica Lynch tells of her American pride at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Sunset Memorial Gar
"I knew I wanted to be creative and powerful," said Lynch. "I have no regrets about my decision to join the military; I traveled that road that was least traveled in my family."
Lynch told of going into boot camp a week after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"I enjoyed Army life, which surprised me but I never forgot where home was," she said. "It is my life, my comfort, my heaven."
Photo by Jolene Craig
Jessica Lynch tells of her American and hometown pride as the guest speaker of the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Sunset Memorial Gardens in south Parkersburg on Saturday.
Lynch spoke of being a prisoner of war and how she fought to keep her left leg when her captors tried to amputate it.
"I knew that I had to persevere," she said. "My family and my friends were the only thing that got me through it.
"Although nine days doesn't seem like a long time to be in captivity, lying there with no food and no water and only thoughts and pain makes it longer than it seems," she said.
Memorial Day Services
Today, 1 p.m., ceremony at old ferry landing in Ravenswood.
Today, 2 p.m., ceremony at Ravenswood Cemetery
Monday, 10 a.m., ceremony at Parkersburg City Park
Monday, 8 a.m., parade and ceremony in Harmar Village in Marietta
Monday, 10 a.m., parade and ceremony at Oak Grove Cemetery in Marietta
Monday, 9 a.m., parade and ceremony at Riverview Cemetery in Williamstown
Monday, 11 a.m., ceremony at Leavitt Funeral Home in Belpre
Monday, 9 a.m., parade and ceremony in Beverly and Waterford
Monday, 10:30 a.m., parade and ceremony in Lowell
Monday, 11 a.m., ceremony at Jackson County Courthouse, Ripley
Monday, 11 a.m., parade and ceremony in Cairo
Monday, 11 a.m., ceremony at the river landing in New Matamoras
Monday, 11 a.m., ceremony at Newport Cemetery
Lynch added that she is thankful to be alive and to have survived the multiple surgeries she has undergone since being rescued.
"I know I'm one of the lucky, fortunate ones to have come home alive," she said. "My 11 comrades who died are the reason I don't complain about pain - even today."
Since she has come home, Lynch has started taking college classes to become a kindergarten teacher and has become a mother.
"My goals, my dreams and ambitions are being met," she said in closing. "I thank my fellow service men and women who have worn the uniform with pride and integrity."
During Saturday's ceremony, vocalist Cara Waybright performed the "Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America." The invocation and closing prayers were performed by Chaplain Mike Sundstrom with American Legion Post 15.
The program also featured a flag raising and wreath laying. During the ceremony, the color guard and the rifle salute and the playing of "Taps" were presented by members of Post 15.
There was also a reading of the list of the 67 local veterans who died since Memorial Day 2010.
A number of other Memorial Day ceremonies will be held throughout the area today and Monday in the Mid-Ohio Valley.