Friday, April 6, 2012

ONG soldiers who died should be honored, as well as those who came before them

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

Three soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Ohio National Guard lost their lives this week while serving our country in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Hannon, 44, of Grove City; Captain Nicholas Rozanski, 36, of Dublin; and Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey J. Rieck, 45, of Upper Arlington, gave their lives in service of their country.

They are not the first Ohio soldiers to die for us, and as much as we wish for it to not be the case, they probably will not be the last. Their names are fresh in our minds and hearts as we grieve for them and for their families.

I wonder how many of you recall the name Marion A. Ross? Ross was a Civil War soldier from nearby Christiansburg. He was a Sergeant Major in Company B, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In April of 1862, Ross, along with 19 other Ohio soldiers and two civilians who took part in what became known as "The Great Locomotive Chase" or "Andrews' Raiders."

The group captured a Confederate railroad train nearly 200 miles deep into enemy territory before being captured. Ross was one of eight of the Raiders hanged by the Confederates as a spy.

Marion A. Ross, from tiny Christiansburg, Ohio, became one of the first American soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for bravery in the face of the enemy.

On April 12, in Columbus, the Ohio National Guard will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Andrews' Raiders and our country's first recipients of the Medal of Honor.

What strikes me about this is that, while the names Hannon, Rozanski and Rieck are, to us, real people who not only are part of history, but a part of us, people like Marion Ross seem to be all but forgotten, just a footnote in our history books.

The point is, that Marion Ross, just like his current day counterparts, was a living breathing person, a man from a small town who was doing his duty when his life was cut short before the age of 30.

I feel certain that the families of modern-day soldiers who go in harm's way and put their lives on the line, hope that the memory of their loved ones and the sacrifices made are long remembered and appreciated by the rest of us.

I can't help but feel that Levi and Mary Ross, Marion's parents, felt the same for their son. (Both of Ross' parents died before the end of the Civil War.) The same sentiments go for the families of the thousands of American Marines, soldiers, seamen and airmen who have given their lives defending our nation.

Too many Americans brush the history of our nation aside. Too many Americans, and others, attempt to re-write history to suit their own political or religious beliefs.

The fact is, no one can change history. Some of the events that make up our history are not very pleasant. Some of the events are even an embarrassment. Still, they are part of the chain of events that brought us to this point.

Most important for all of us, is to never forget those who served and sacrificed for our country. We must all remember that just as Hannon, Rozanski and Reick were real people, so were Ross and thousands of other Ohioans, Americans all, who lie beneath marble headstones and bronze markers in cemeteries around this great country and overseas.

We all owe them a debt that can never be repaid. The least we can do is honor them by never — ever, forgetting.

Memorial Day is not far away. As you make the trip to a local cemetery to honor your family members this Memorial Day, take some time to look over surrounding grave stones and say a prayer for those who served.

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