veterans honored with programs
post remembers fallen marine
Wanda English Burnett
never singled out just one veteran to honor on Veterans Day
before, began Sugo Castner of the Versailles American
Legion as they conducted a special service at the Cliff Hill
Cemetery for fallen comrade Cpl John Bishop, on Veterans Day.
But, he singled himself out by giving his all and we felt
this was appropriate, Castner continued.
It was a bitter sweet day for Versailles residents as they remembered
not only all veterans, but one in particular, Cpl. Bishop, who
was killed in Afghanistan on September 8, 2010.
He was the only active member in the history of the Post
who was killed in action, Castner told The Versailles
Republican. Cpl. Bishop was a seven year member of the Versailles
American Legion Post when he lost his life.
Legionnaires started early on November 11 with a breakfast at
the South Ripley High School at 8 a.m.
Indiana Patriot Guard (INPG) members lined one end of the gymnasium,
each holding a large American flag. These men and women are
volunteers who are willing to be the buffer between veterans
families and any military protestors. They are an extension
of patriotism that numbers in the thousands to offer moral support
in the veterans or veterans family time of need.
Active duty soldiers came up to INPG members and thanked them
for what they do for them. One guard member said it was humbling
to think the military members were thanking them, when they
(the INPG) were actually thanking the military with their service.
Veterans were escorted into the gymnasium at South Ripley High
School by members of the Social Studies Club as the band played
Elementary school principal Mark Collier introduced each veteran
with their service ranging from World War II veterans to todays
action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Versailles American Legion Color Guard presented colors
with seniors Sam Stratton, Meredith Knollman and sixth grade
student council president Mackenzie Black leading the Pledge.
The morning included patriotic music by a senior ensemble, high
school and junior high choirs, the Young Confederates under
the direction of Patsy Holdsworth, and Amazing Grace was performed
on the bagpipe by Kevin Konetzka. A video tribute was given
compliments of Cody King and Sam Stratton.
Speakers included Sandy Becker, commander of the Versailles
American Legion, Major Charles Nesloney, Patriot Academy at
MUTC and Larry Sutherlin, retired government teacher.
Retired Marine Cpl. Becker explained what a veteran is, what
they do and why.
He told the convocation that the veterans endure sweltering
heat, fox holes in the mud, constant blowing sand, and frostbite
to protect the freedoms we all enjoy.
Major Nesloney, who has served two Iraqi Freedom Tours, talked
about the first and only military high school, located just
one county over. (Jennings County)
He said the military wanted to take a stand against the high
school drop out epidemic. The students who walk our halls
are soldiers, he noted. They are disciplined warriors
who receive full time pay and benefits in exchange for their
high school diploma and service to their country.
He said a veteran is someone who writes a blank check for an
amount up to and including their life.
Major Nesloneys voice broke as he said we owe them
(veterans) more gratitude than we can ever pay.
Sutherlin told the crowd, we wouldnt be here in
a free country without them (veterans).
He honored slain Marine Cpl. John Bishop and noted an empty
chair with the American Flag and Bishops photo - denoting
his sacrifice. It was a poignant reminder that freedom comes
with a price. As the other veterans being honored that day took
their chairs, only one was empty, but will never be forgotten.
The family of Bishop was in attendance at the program and were
honored as they stood to thunderous applause that seemed to
last for minutes.
Sutherlin said he has never been more proud of the community
than when they honored Cpl. Bishop from the day his body was
returned to his hometown of Versailles to the burial ceremony
at the cemetery.
Just a few years ago, he walked these same halls as you,
Sutherlin told the students. He knew the family and had taught
many of Bishops brothers and sisters.
Versailles American Legion members ended their day with a ceremony
for all veterans at the Ripley County Veterans Memorial on the
courthouse lawn, Versailles.
The Osgood and Milan American Legions were also busy on Veterans
Day with various programs at their respective schools.
The common theme throughout the day was freedom isnt
free - it comes with a price, sometimes one that is the
ultimate sacrifice and takes a life.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
With the new grave in front of them,
the family of Cpl. John Bishop, gathered at the Cliff
Hill Cemetery in Versailles on Veterans Day for a special
ceremony honoring their loved one. Cpl. Bishop was killed
in Afghanistan on September 8, 2010. He was the first
veteran killed in the line of duty who was a member of
the Versailles American Legion Post. Many Bishop family
members, brothers, sisters, and his mother, stood among
the Indiana Patriot Guard as they held American flags
while the Post conducted a service to honor the slain