Steve's Blog

Memorial Day Memories

Lot of milestones last weekend. Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, Jimmy Carter national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and rock legend Gregg Allman, all passed away. Actor Kevin Bacon once suggested that we’re all only six degrees of separation from each other. Thought I’d try it.

My wife Donna and I attended the very first rock concert held at Riverfront Coliseum (now called US Bank Arena) back in 1975. The performers were the Allman Brothers Band – starring none other than Gregg Allman. (The late great Muddy Waters was a special guest playing that evening.) As for Zbigniew Brzezinski, his daughter Mika, just got engaged to her co-host on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Joe Scarborough. Joe and I were elected to Congress in the same historic 1994 class (Newt Gingrich, the Contract with America, etc.) and served together until he left Congress in 2001. And of course I had the honor of serving in Congress with Jim Bunning for a number of years. One of my more memorable experiences with Jim was being selected to represent the Congress at Pope John Paul II’s funeral in 2005. Here’s a photo I snapped of Jim and his wonderful wife, Mary, in St. Peter’s Square.

1

Also over the weekend, Donna and I attended a family reunion picnic at Versailles State Park in Indiana. The picnic revolved around the families of my mom (who’s now 92) and her late sister, Mary. Versailles is about halfway between where they both lived. We’ve been having the picnics since I was a little tyke (over 60 years now). Here’s a photo from a few years back, with a lot of the kids and grandkids.
2
And here’s one from this past Sunday without most of the kids and grandkids (they’re scattered all over the country now – ours in New York and Chicago.)

3
Front row left to right: my sister-in-law Nancy, my brother Ron, and my mom. Back row left to right: my brother-in-law Joe and sister Carol, my niece Maria, my wife Donna, me, my cousin Sandra, my cousin Diane, my cousin Terry and his wife Tanya.

And then, of course, Monday was Memorial Day. I began the morning by participating in a parade in Cleves. The people were lined up all along Miami Avenue – lot of flags; lot of patriotic attire. Was proud to be an American. Here’s a photo of the young folks who marched with me.

5a

Then proceeded to Maple Grove Cemetery nearby for ceremonies to honor local veterans; especially those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. It was very well organized. The ceremonies were divided into four separate parts – in four separate sections of the cemetery.

First, in the section of Maple Grove where Civil War veterans are buried, two students recited the Gettysburg Address – by heart. It was impressive. Then music by the Taylor High School Band. Here’s some video I took on my iPhone (but didn’t think to do it until after the boys had already recited the Gettysburg Address – I’m still kicking myself.)

Next, we moved to the World War I/World War II section of the cemetery. Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Jackie Ginocchio spoke of her grandfather’s experiences serving during World War II.

Then we moved to honor the Korean and Vietnam veterans. Another local judge, Gwen Bender, spoke. Here’s video I took there, including a 21-gun salute, and TAPS.

And finally, we moved to a section of the cemetery dedicated to “U.S. wars and conflicts from 1982 to present” – including among others, Iraq and Afghanistan. I was asked to be the speaker at this portion of the ceremonies. After thanking and honoring all our veterans for their service, particularly those and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice, I focused my attention on the life, and death, of Marine Sergeant David Kreuter, who was killed in Iraq on August 3rd, 2005. He was a graduate of St. Xavier High School, and the University of Cincinnati. My wife Donna was a close friend of David’s mother Pat prior to his death, and I would say we’ve become even closer with his family since that tragic day. Since I was speaking during this part of the ceremony, I don’t have any video, but here’s a photo someone snapped of me with David’s mother Pat, standing by David’s memorial plaque.

5

Anyway, that was Memorial Day weekend. May God bless you and your loved ones. See you next week.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it!