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  Boardman’s 120th Annual Memorial Day  
  May 30, 2024 Edition  
     “My prayer is that we are able to keep this incredible country that has been preserved by those who gave their lives for us”
      Associate Editor
      Boardman Township’s 120th Memorial Day observance was held Mon., May 27 and began the parade from Center Intermediate School to Boardman Park, led by the Boardman High School Spartan Marching Band. In the footsteps of his predecessors J.W. Minter, Richard Bame, and Thomas A. Groth, director Thomas Ruggieri led the 2-mile trek to Boardman Park.
      Weather forecasts cancelled the traditional Memorial Day service at the park’s Maag Outdoor Arts Theater, and Parade Grand Marshal and featured speaker, local talk show host and military veteran Dan Rivers, delivered his address inside the Lariccia Family Center.
      “It sounds simplistic and fraught with idealism, but my mind often reflects on how we, as an evolved species, have not renounced warfare,” Rivers said.
      He later added “Today when I see statutes defaced, college campuses defiled, I see a lack of knowing history, and entitlement.
      “Please be cognizant of those who gave lives just like yours, in the name of freedom.
      “When and if you are involved in a demonstration, understand that a soldier made it possible for you to demonstrate openly, without fear of reprisal from the government.”
      Noting that “we have been given a planet with vast resources, more than enough to feed the world, and yet evil prevails,” Rivers recounted his father’s experience while serving in World War II.
      His father, a 1941 high school graduate, was a member of a B-29 bombing crew that developed engine trouble after being hit by enemy gunfire, and was forced to make a crash landing while over the Himalaya mountains over China.
      He survived the crash and was rescued by Chinese villagers, who traveling by night and hiding by day, led him to safety after a five-week journey.
      Rivers recalled all war casualties, including a civil was battle at Perryville, Ky., where 200 Ohioans died in one day, where 4200 Union soldiers and 3200 Confederate soldiers died in one day; as well as those who died in Vietnam, World War II and even the 13 service members who perished during the evacuation of Afghanistan.
      “We all need to reflect on the sacrifice that so many have given in service to the idea of America,” Rivers, a Seabee who completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, said.
      Rivers said Spartan Marching band members at the annual parade “provided inspiration through their music, with all in the band thinking there is a bright future ahead.
      “To you students, allow yourself to think of being a member of the outnumbered and completely surrounded General Washington’s army in Brooklyn.
      “They faced certain death had it not been for Washington gathering every boat and skiff, and sneaking his men across the East River in the dead of night to fight again. When dawn broke away, a heavy shroud of fog rolled in, further protecting the escape. Some say, divine intervention was at play.
      “Think about the men storming Normandy Beach as machine gun fire attempted to turn them back.
      “Hopefully, you will never face those challenges. For now, it’s enough to remember those who did.
      “Remember, they were kids, just like you, who gave their lives so we all could be free.”
      And, the speaker recalled, “There are brave men and women who have waded into battle in defense of the Republic, knowing they would like be killed in doing so.
      “How many of us would be willing to do the same,” Rivers asked, concluding “My prayer is that we are able to keep this incredible country that has been preserved by those who gave their lives for us.”
      Mark Luke, of the Kiwanis Club, served as master of ceremonies and organized the parade.
      PICTURED: NOTED LOCAL TALK SHOW HOST, Dan Rivers, of WKBN, served as parade grand marshal and featured speaker at Boardman Township’s 120th annual Memorial Day observances held on May 27. Rivers is a Seabee veteran of the Vietnam Conflict.
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