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A thankful tribute: Families with military children honored

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RONAN – Community members came together March 27 to honor military families at Ronan Alliance Church during a Blue Star Ceremony. The service was held during the Sunday morning worship service, led by Air Force Staff Sergeant and pastor Jeff Kingery.

“We just want to honor (the families), we understand their sacrifice,” Kingery said, as his own two sons Jordan and Jared both serve in the military (Jared currently serving in Afghanistan.)

“This is near and dear to our hearts,” Kingery said.

The Service Flag is an official banner for display by families with loved ones serving in the Armed Forces throughout any period of war, or during a period of hostility. The flag surfaced during WWI, as a symbol that a family had a child in the service. It wasn’t until 1960 that Congress made it an official flag.

Kingery began the ceremony with a brief sermon during which he gave examples of biblical characters who made a great sacrifice.

“We don’t talk a lot about sacrifice these days,” he said. “But these families have sacrificed greatly.”

Lieutenant Commander of the United States Navy (SS) Ron Merwin spoke on how families are affected when their children head to war.

“It affects everyone,” he said. “Graduates this spring from (area schools) will be signing up and heading to boot camp and possibly off to war. We are at war, and war is hell.”

Merwin continued by stating that there are more than 2,000 men and women who have suffered like local serviceman Tomy Parker has in this war. Parker, a 2008 Ronan graduate, was injured in December, 2010 when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath him in Afghanistan. Parker’s left leg was amputated at the hip, and his right leg amputated above the knee. He also lost all four fingers on his left hand.

Parker’s mother, Lisa Jennison, and her partner, Tim Corbett, were among those who joined Kingery on stage at the beginning of the ceremony. Marine Sergeant Chuck Lewis presented each of the families with a flag and salute. 

Each star on the flag represents how many children the family has in service.

Each flag presented at Sunday’s ceremony was hand-crafted by Lady Auxiliary member Jessie Merwin.

Emotions ran high as each family gave a brief talk about their children in service.

Harvey and Joyce Town were present to honor their son, Colonel Steven Town, who is currently serving in disaster relief in Tokyo, Japan, from an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck earlier this month.

“We’re here to honor him,” Harvey said. “We are proud.”


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