Liverpool marks Veterans Day

EAST LIVERPOOL – They stood with flags and mementos and tears, honoring those who fought for their freedoms.

The city and its schools observed Veterans Day with a parade and a variety of activities designed to help students realize the importance of those who have served, and those who are still serving, in the military.

The annual Veterans Day parade drew a small crowd that watched and applauded as veterans from various conflicts came past in military Jeeps, on motorcycles and vintage cars.

As he stood watching, Gary Cilli held a small American flag and a white sailor’s cap.

“It was my dad’s,” he said of the now somewhat-yellowed cap, saying it just seemed as though he should bring it to honor his father, the late Sebastian Cilli, who served in the U.S. Navy.

Holding a much larger flag along the route was Kenneth Butler, whose eyes streamed with tears as he watched the units going past.

In his hand, Butler held a small medallion reading, “Freedom isn’t Free,” a sentiment which is much more than a platitude for this Liverpool Township resident.

Also in his hand was a set of dog tags, one with a string laced through with the neckchain.

“That was around his toe,” he mused as he wiped tears from his face, remembering how the string held the dog tags on the body of his 21-year-old son, Corporal Tyler Butler, killed in Iraq on Feb. 1, 2007 while serving with the U.S. Army.

Wreaths were laid at the memorials in front of City Hall by Dan Pratt, a U.S. Army veteran and Bill Ash, a U.S. Navy veteran. Both men served in the Vietnam War.

The parade also featured both the East Liverpool and Beaver Local high school bands, American Legion Post 374 Color Guard, a variety of veterans groups, and the Rodgers family consisting of Kyle, Barry, Tyler and their mother Katrina, who wore camouflage and carried flags in honor of veterans.

Ambulances, fire trucks and police cruisers from the area also joined the procession, as did Mayor Jim Swoger.

Later, the annual Veterans Day dinner was held at the Legion.

In the schools, children participated in writing letters to military personnel, and at LaCroft, students had the opportunity to eat lunch yesterday with veterans, who also gave presentations on what it means to be a veteran.

The fourth grade had lunch with the color guard from the Tri-State Burial Group, which then provided a flag folding demonstration.

Each student also had the opportunity to place a small American flag in front of the school building, and a display in the hallway depicted various relatives who are veterans.