Jenkins, Taylor honored in wall dedication speech
When Adams County Superior Court Judge Patrick Miller gave the Memorial Day speech in front of the Peace Monument at the Adams County Courthouse on Monday, he quickly remembered the county's two latest soldiers killed in action.
Miller, who was giving a speech dedicating the Veterans Wall of Honor, stated, "Two of these bricks are set in remembrance of Staff Sergeant Phillip Jenkins of Decatur and Specialist Nick Taylor of Berne, our two most recent Adams County soldiers killed in action.
"Here in the shadows of our courthouse, we dedicate this Veterans Wall of Honor which so aptly joins our Peace Monument," said Miller. "If you take the time to look at the Veterans Wall, there are bricks engraved with the names of veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq."
A large crowd of Adams County residents filled the courthouse lawn and most of the street between the courthouse, Post Office and Superior Court building under deep blue Memorial Day skies. Members of the Decatur Fire Department had made a ladder truck available to hoist an American flag over the scene as it slowly waved in the gentle warm breeze.
"One of the first soldiers killed in action from Adams County was 1st Lt. James Christen in WWII over Sicily," said Miller. "Also on the wall is Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Rodney Davis, who served with Commissioner Doug Bauman."
Miller encouraged those present to take plenty of time to talk about heroism and sacrifice and to read about heroism in history books.
"We are humbled by the tremendous courage shown by our brave sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen throughout history. There is no doubt that our veterans have paved the way for our military's reputation as the finest fighting force in the world," observed Miller.
Miller quoted President Abraham Lincoln in stating, "care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan."
He also quoted President John Kennedy, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors and the men it remembers."
Miller reminded those present that there were 3,000 flags decorating the graves of Adams County veterans on Monday.
"If you would look into their lives, whether privates or generals, you would see practiced the same values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage," Miller said.
Special recognition was made by placing wreaths representing veterans who fought all battles that touched the lives of Adams County people.
Vocalist Ryan Hirschy led the crowd in singing, "My Country Tis of Thee," and then he presented a special solo, "Proud to be American."
Following the service, Bauman said, "This was just tremendous. I don't think that I've ever been to a Memorial Day celebration or a Veteran's Day celebration that has touched me more.
"The large crowd is a tribute to how much the people of this county appreciate our veterans," added Bauman.
"This is a very special day for our county," commented Berne Mayor Bill McKean, who like Bauman, is a Vietnam veteran. "People worked hard to get this turnout. This is a fantastic tribute to the veterans of our county. Anytime that veterans are honored like this, it's a very special day."
Decatur Mayor John Schultz referred to the event as a wonderful Memorial Day that brought back lots of memories from the times that he, too, served in Vietnam.
"Ironically, Bill McKean and I served in the same infantry outfit for four months together, but we didn't know that until we discovered it in a conversation last year," said Schultz. "I can't thank the crowd enough for its support of our veterans today. It is well-deserved."
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