November 12, 2011: I was not born in Shinnston, nor did I grow up here. I am proud of having grown up on a small farm in Brooke County West Virginia (northern panhandle for geographic reference). I got to Shinnston as quickly as I could.
I was side-tracked with following the mantra a West Virginia kid hears – “there is nothing for you here”, which by the way is not true – and migrated to Illinois, to the Burbs of Chicago. I had a lot of family there since my Mom came from Chicago, but it did not take long for the call of West Virginia to tug my heart strings. One week after deciding I had to go home I met a widower with 5 children to add to my one. I was given, as a reward for taking them on, West Virginia! Anywhere I wanted in West Virginia. I honestly feel we were guided to Shinnston.
Why am I so proud of Shinnston? It is a small city that reveres GOD and Country – in that order. This city has never had “religious wars”. ALL the Churches work together, supporting the Lord’s Pantry Food Bank (organized under the umbrella of the Shinnston Area Council of Churches), funding the work of the Council of Churches, and ALL the Churches have members keeping vigil hours at the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration now in its 12th year and the only one in West Virginia.
Country! Shinnston loves this Country and has pride in their contribution to it. During WWII and for years after, there was a Veterans Memorial at the corner of Pike and Clement Streets, at the bottom of the hill leading to the High School. Over time it rotted and collapsed. Mr. Dwayne Hardman and the Sons of the American Legion decided it needed to be replaced. Through volunteer work and fundraising, a beautiful memorial to our military from the French & Indian War on was erected with plaques, In Honor of or In Memory of, placed on the walls. A Service is held there every Memorial Day.
Yesterday was Veterans Day. Downtown Pike Street was lined with American Flags. The Parade sponsored by the Lions Club started at 11 AM with the four honorees of 2011 as Grand Marshalls. The Color Guard from Lincoln High School’s NJROTC led the Parade followed by the Honorees.
Victor Andrick who served in WW II led, followed by Jackson Anderson from the Korean War, and David Feathers from the Viet Nam War. The last Honoree was represented with a horse with no rider led by a soldier in
fatigues. This Summer, Samuel Murray finally came home from Korea, no longer MIA, now KIA.
Jeremiah, Katie, and their daughter Laina were unable to stay for the Parade. Jeremiah was one of the Veterans the Gillum House was given the privilege of providing a room for B & Bs For Vets, a nationwide program. Eric and Sara were the other couple. Soccer Mom Sara had their chairs in the car. Both of these young men refused to be in the Parade saying they were not heroes. Both served this Country and their wives held down the fort while they served.
Eric is someone I want to tell about. Sara had told me he was an amputee but the stairs were no problem. We assumed he had been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. No, he told us, it was during a Special Forces training jump – BETWEEN tours in Afghanistan. His leg got caught in the lines as he jumped and it ripped his leg off. After he got his prosthesis, he went back to Afghanistan. After contracting Mersa, he lost a bit more of that leg and is now retired Special Forces. He is just one of the West Virginia boys who per capita, are the most wounded or killed of any State in the Union in every war since we became a State. Thank you, Veterans. Because you served, we are FREE.