Hanabarger addresses Memorial Day crowds

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Fayette Faces

By Linda Hanabarger

Nature provided the perfect setting for the Brownstown VFW Post # 9770 Memorial Day service, with enough breeze to keep the many red, white and blue American flags billowing against the bright blue, cloudless sky, a reminder and symbol of our freedom. The word contains the word “free,” but those being honored and remembered paid a heavy price for our freedom.

This was the 22nd Memorial Day service presented by the Brownstown VFW, and each one has marked the day as special with sincerity in honoring those who have served, some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice and some who returned to pick up their lives with their families and friends, but all who carried the scars in some way, visible or not visible.
The Mistress of Ceremonies, Virginia Wilber, extended the welcome, followed by the VFW presenting of the colors.
Wilber then gave the invocation, followed by the Brownstown Community Choir, led by Angela Strobel, with a number of patriotic songs, including the national anthem, for which everyone stood and joined in singing.
Jebidiah Smail, Post 9770 commander, gave the Commander’s Address, well-spoken and with sincerity.  
Don Smail read the names of Post 9770 members who died in the past year, and Mackenzie Walk, the Voice of Democracy Contest Post 9770 winner, read her essay.
Guest Speaker
Linda Hanabarger of the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society, began by expressing her gratitude being invited to speak, and began by introducing herself not as the well-known genealogist that she is, but instead as the granddaughter of a veteran (her grandfather served with the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary); as the daughter of a veteran (her father served with the 96th Division, the Deadeyes at Luzon); and as the sister of two veterans of the Vietnam War, her oldest brother, Ed, serving with the 1st Calvary Airborne; and Don, with the 386th  Quartermaster Corps. She is also the aunt of two nephews who served, one in harm’s way.
She said that her dad, Ed Torbeck, was a member of both the VFW and the American Legion   and served as an officer in both. Her mother also served in both auxiliaries and  was president of VFW Auxiliary in Vandalia,
“I, too, as a teenager, was a member of the Junior Legion Auxiliary, so I guess with this background, service to the veterans is in my blood.”
Hanabarger’s Service Continues …
… in a different, but a very important, way. “Some of you know of my work with the Illinois Veteran’s Grave Registration Prpoject, whereby veteran markers are set on unmarked graves of veterans,” she said, and gave an update on the project.
“To date, we have set 18 stones in Fayette County. Two were Revolutionary War veterans, James Cheshier and Henry Ginger; two War of 1812 veterans, Charles Radcliff and Henry Folger; William Morrison, West Point graduate, of 1825; and for 14 veterans of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces.
“My most recent project has been to obtain a veteran marker for a Union soldier, Aquila Hastings, and I am pleased that a new flat bronze marker has been ordered to be placed in front of the concrete GAR stone that marks his grave in the family plot in the Old State Burial Ground in Vandalia.
“In this cemetery, there are over 25 unmarked graves for United States veterans. Extrapolate that out and in our county alone, we have a few hundred unmarked veteran graves,” she said.
“Proof has been found of service in Co. F, 7th Illinois Calvary for Hugh Sefton, whose remains and those of his wife, Leah Powell, were moved from the mausoleum in Vandalia and placed in an unmarked grave.
“His cousin, James S. Buchanan, a member of Co. E, 134th Indiana Infantry, and wife, Martha Ann, were also buried in the mausoleum and their remains were removed and placed in unmarked graves when the mausoleum was torn down. Both were Brownstown men.
“Their graves have been identified, and as soon as proof of James’s service is fund, the paperwork will be completed and their veteran markers ordered to be placed together in South Hill Cemetery in Vandalia.”
In Conclusion
Hanabarger reminded all of the reason all were present on this Memorial Day. “On this Memorial day, we honor who did not return, who gave their all.”
She  concluded with a touching story of ones waiting at home while their loved ones were serving in the terrible wars.
“My mother told me of living in a shotgun house in Vandalia’s west end, where she shared a sidewalk with her neighbor, her long-time friend Charlotte.”
A sidewalk was a single width from the street, then divided at their yards in a Y to go to their houses.
“Both of their husbands were overseas and their sons played together.  One day, mom looked out the window and saw an officer coming up the walk. As mother braced herself, he veered off and knocked on Charlotte’s door to inform her she was a widow.”
Linda Hanabarger, in sharing this story, reminded us of the heartbreak and sadness of war, and how important it is to never forget the sacrifices the men and women made when they left their families and loved ones behind to fight for America and all it stood for, that it will be safe for them, while facing the possibility that their families may never see them again.
The program concluded with Wilber giving the benediction, Post 9770 members retiring the colors and firing volleys, and Ronnie Harre playing “Taps.”