Large crowd attends annual community Memorial Day observance at courthouse


On a bright a sunny Memorial Day, a large crowd of Switzerland County residents and visitors took some time to come to the Veterans Memorial at the courthouse for the annual services.

This year’s observance was coordinated by the Vevay American Legion Post #185, and opened with selections by the Vevay Music Club. Legion Post commander George Zubaty welcomed the crowd, and Roy Duckworth from the Florence Church of Christ gave the invocation.

Those in attendance then participated in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.

Commander Zubaty then took time to acknowledge veterans in attendance, asking each group to raise their hand or stand as he called their service time. Veterans were in attendance from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and Afghanistan and Iraq. He then asked everyone to bow their heads for a moment of silence in honor of POWs and MIAs.

Sharon Hansel of the American Legion Auxiliary then welcomed everyone and offered a memorial prayer. She also reminded everyone of the flag retirement program, which will be held on Tuesday, June 14th at the Switzerland County Fairgrounds. She asked that anyone who has a flag that is in need of being properly retired to bring it either to the ceremony or drop it off at the American Legion post on Ferry Street.

George Zubaty then introduced the ceremony’s featured speaker, Tim Hoffman, a resident of Madison who has served in the Army Reserves. During his years of service, Tim Hoffman commanded four chemical units at the Jefferson Proving Ground in Madison; and also a petroleum company operating out of Scottsburg.

In 1996-97 he served on active duty in Bosnia, and in 2002 was in active duty in Germany and Albania. He retired in 2005 as a Lieutenant Colonel after 35 years of service.

“Originally called Decoration Day, many individuals today see Memorial Day only as an official start to the summer,” Tim Hoffman said. “Cookouts, fireworks, softball and baseball games, and what a heck of a 500 race we had, but the real meaning of today goes far beyond today’s beautiful sunny skies. Today we’re here to honor and remember all of those brother and sisters – and especially Madison’s John Menke and your own Sergeant Kenneth Booker – who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Tim Hoffman also reminded the crowd that those soldiers who are currently serving overseas also need to be remembered not only on holidays, but everyday. He also spoke of remembering those soldiers who have been serving, and who have now come home disabled.

“Yes, we’re here to honor our fallen soldiers, but I discovered as a reservist on active duty, that there are so many unsung heroes, rarely, if ever, recognized,” Tim Hoffman said. “….During this deployment, our unit received many care packets from you all, telling us how we were appreciated, and how we were such heroes.”

But Tim Hoffman said that his definition of the word “hero” changed when he returned to Madison after that deployment. He said that he was on the porch of his home with his wife, who informed him that she hadn’t sat on the couple’s porch swing the entire time that he had been gone.

“It was right then and there that I truly recognized my hero - my wife,” Tim Hoffman said. “How could she, and so many other mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers who were left behind to care for their family in that same situation; find the time to sit and swing when she had to pay the bills, teach first grade, fix the meals, cut the grass, do the wash, have the new heating unit installed that broke, take the kids to church, and – in this case – take care of her mother, who was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Tim Hoffman also said that many cities and towns who had members of those communities away on active duty who pulled together to keep things running.

Tim Hoffman said that as he taught physical education for many years, he wore a tee-shirt to school. As he closed his speech, Tim Hoffman asked Sharon Hansel to come forward and hold up one shirt that he wore. On it were the words “Freedom is not free”.

“My question is, if freedom is not free, who pays the price?” Tim Hoffman said. “That’s the kicker. I think if we’re all really honest with ourselves, we all pay the price in some way.”

Following Tim Hoffman’s remarks, the Vevay Music Club sang portions of the themes from the different branches of the military, asking those veterans to wave their hands as their song was played: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

George Zubaty then introduced the Honor Guard from American Legion Post #185 and the Vevay Veterans of Foreign Wars #5396; and also Ryan Sullivan who played “Tapps”. Roy Duckworth then closed the ceremony with prayer, and everyone joined in the singing of “God Bless America”.