PIQUA — It was not just the bright, cool weather that brought residents out of their homes Monday morning. It was a commitment to remembering the ultimate sacrifice that service men and women gave for this country that had numerous residents gathered at the Veterans Memorial after the parade on Memorial Day.
Vice Admiral James P. “Phil” Wisecup (Ret.), a Piqua native who served 36 years active duty in the United States Navy, gave the keynote address at the Memorial Day ceremony in honor of Americans who gave their lives while serving on active duty in the U.S. military.
“I was born here, and I’m happy to be back,” Wisecup said.
Wiscup is a 1973 Piqua High School graduate and 1977 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned his master’s degree in international relations from the University of Southern California, graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., in 1998, and, as an Olmsted Scholar, also earned a degree from the University of Strasbourg, France, in 1982.
Upon retirement from active duty in 2013, Wisecup moved to Rhode Island and became the seventh director of the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. He and his wife, Anne, have five children and plan to relocate to Ohio in the near future.
“Memories of this parade in Piqua, Ohio, are some of my earlist recollections,” he said.
Wisecup said that continuing to remember and honor veterans who gave their lives as well as all veterans is “important to the future of our country.”
Wisecup touched on Piqua residents who died serving this country.
“For a town the size of Piqua, there are over 60 veterans who gave their lives in World War II,” he said. “Small towns like Piqua are constantly touched by big world events.”
Wisecup also mentioned Piqua native Corporal Samuel F. Pearson, who passed away in October 2007 in the line of duty serving as a Specialist in the United States Army stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. He also brought up William Pitsenbarger, Piqua native and pararescueman who gave his life during the Vietnam War in 1966 aiding and defending a unit of soldiers that an enemy assault had pinned down. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
Wisecup went on to say that he was sure there were other Piqua natives serving their country right now.
“Know that they have our respect, and by God, we’re proud of them,” Wisecup said.
Mayor Kazy Hinds also gave the invocation and the benediction at the Memorial Day ceremony in remembrance of service men and women who gave their lives in the name of American freedom.
“May we be constantly reminded of the gift of freedom and of those who gave their all to make sure that future generations can continue to live in a free and democratic society,” Hinds said.
In Covington, the village held their Memorial Day parade on Monday afternoon. The parade marshal was James Pitman, U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War. The guest speakers were Selena Loyd, director of Veteran Services of Miami County, at Miami Memorial, and Warren Davidson, U.S. Congressman, at Highland Cemetery.
Davidson explained the difference of Memorial Day versus Veterans’ Day, how Memorial Day honors those service men and women who lost their lives during military action, while Veterans’ Day honors all Americans who served and continue to serve.
Davidson also focused on the courage of those who served this country, from the courage of the Founding Fathers to that of the 620,000 Americans who died in the Civil War, which is a little less than half the total approximate 1,264,000 American service men and women who have died in the nation’s wars.
Davidson discussed the veterans who stood at Gettysburg during the Civil War and at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy in World War I. He ended by discussing how people are still being courageous and signing up to serve their country.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336