What a weekend it was.
If Memorial Day weekend is meant to honor heroic soldiers and make memories in other ways — this past weekend certainly fit the bill.
After last week ended with heavy rains, Saturday morning dawned to sunny skies and warm weather.
At Switzerland County High School, members of the graduating class of 2022 participated in Commencement ceremonies.
The morning was filled with the pomp and circumstance of a graduation, with Senior Class Secretary Olivia Sams leading the Pledge of Allegiance and making official welcomes. Class Treasurer Anastasia Faddis then gave the prayer of invocation. Class President Hailey Hines then welcomed dignitaries and also introduced the class officers of the 2022 class; and Jaden Harrell introduced Baccalaureate speaker Anthony Wilks, pastor at The River Apostolic Church.
Sponsor Peggy Higgins then introduced the senior members of the National Honor Society; and Principal Jason Cheek recognized those seniors who had earned Academic and Technical Honors. Greg Curlin then introduced the Top Ten seniors academically; and also recognized those seniors who had earned certifications and associate’s degrees from Ivy Tech Community College.
Assistant Principal Brian Graham introduced those members of the graduating class who were entering military service.
This year’s recognition of the Class Valedictorian and Salutatorian was a close one, as seniors Alisha Detmer and Anastasia Faddis moved back and forth between class rank #1 and #2. In fact, at mid week last week, Faddis was ranked first; but when other grades came in later in the week, Detmer moved past her.
In a display of grace and honor, the two seniors were listed as Co-Valedictorians in the graduation program, and the duo shared the responsibilities of giving the Valedictorian’s address. The two were officially introduced by teachers Cameron Everage and Barry Smith.
Superintendent Rod Hite then gave some remarks, and then officially certified the class for graduation. Diplomas were handed out, including each graduate handing Superintendent Hite a sponge ball in exchange for their diploma; and then when Class President Hines led them in the turning of tassels, the air of the gym was filled with multi colored streamers in celebration.
Monday morning — the official observance of Memorial Day — was again a hot and sunny day, and a large crowd gathered at the Veterans Memorial on the lawn of the Switzerland County Courthouse for the annual memorial service.
The coordination of the service is handled in alternate years by the local VFW and local American Legion posts — and this year it was the American Legion’s turn to host the ceremony.
Post Commander Duane Covington welcomed the crowd, giving some introductory remarks about the importance of Memorial Day. Paul Schmitt gave the invocation; and Sharon Schmitt told the audience about the importance and symbolism of the POW/MIA table that was placed near the speakers podium on Monday, and are also visible in many American Legion posts around the country.
The members of the American Legion Auxiliary spent the weekend handing out poppies; and at Monday’s ceremony, auxiliary member Sharon Hansel gave the history of the poppy, and read ‘In Flanders Fields’.
Career Army veteran Aaron Whitham was this year’s featured speaker, and there wasn’t a sound from those assembled as he recalled tragic events resulting in the loss of four soldiers while he was serving in Afghanistan.
Covington then returned to the podium and read the names of those Switzerland County soldiers through all wars who had given the ultimate sacrifice.
A special observance came when Covington introduced classmates and friends of Bobby Joe Williamson, the first Switzerland County soldier killed in Vietnam.
A single dove was released in Williamson’s honor; and that was followed by the release of two cages of doves to honor all Switzerland County fallen soldiers. The doves were sponsored by the Switzerland County Veterans Council.
The Honor Guard presented a 21-gun salute; and Cameron Everage played ‘Taps’. Covington announced that in observance of Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14th, the legion and VFW were accepting worn flags that could be used as part of the official flag retirement ceremony. A new collection box for flags is now at the American Legion. Covington also thanked Vevay Police Department and the Jeff-Craig Volunteer Fire Department for providing traffic control during the program.
Schmitt closed in prayer; and everyone was invited to the American Legion for a luncheon.
While the Memorial Day observance was going on at the courthouse, on the Pacer softball field at the high school, the Switzerland County Lady Pacers were battling the South Ripley Lady Raiders for the championship of Sectional #45 and the right to advance to the Eastern Pekin Regional.
The championship game was originally set for last Thursday, May 26th, but had been delayed due to severe weather. It had to be played on Monday, because the winner would play in the Regional on Tuesday.
A tight game was broken up by the Lady Pacers in the bottom of the fifth with two runs; and Switzerland County then played solid defense to earn the championship by a 5-3 margin.