CENTENARY — “It’s hard to describe. We get very emotional about it,” Bill Magnus, VFW Post 4464 commander, said about his color guard marching on to local football fields with the guard’s next appearance at Friday night’s first home game at Memorial Field when the Gallia Academy Blue Devils take on Marietta.
This will be a special presentation that will not only include presenting the colors, but a special MIA flag to raise awareness for fallen brothers and sisters who never returned home. Opening night for the Blue Devils football team happens to fall on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Magnus said just prior to the Blue Devils game, the post’s color guard will march onto the field with the flags and the guard will come to attention and present arms. There will then be a mock firing squad, then the playing of “Taps,” followed by a salute to the people in the stands. Then the color guard will turn from center field and march to the end zone to raise the flags.
Magnus said this tradition of presenting the colors began a few years ago. He said when he became post commander, he wanted to merge community traditions with the post’s traditions. Post 4464’s color guard has already appeared at home games for River Valley and South Gallia this season.
In addition, the post is hosting its annual fish fry Friday evening to benefit the Gallia Academy athletic boosters and the football program, Magnus said. The fish fry is completely financed by the post, with all proceeds going to purchase needed equipment and other items for the children. Magnus said in more recent years, the fish fry generated about $3,000 and he hopes to raise even more during the event that begins at 5 p.m. Friday at the post.
Supper will begin with a POW/MIA ceremony for the players, cheerleaders and others in attendance. The ceremony will be identical to the one the post and Gallia County Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 709 are offering earlier in the day at 10 a.m. near the Doughboy Monument in Gallipolis City Park.
The speaker for that service will be Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame member and pastor of New Life Lutheran Church, the Rev. John Jackson. Shanna Smith will perform patriotic selections. This year’s national theme is “Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise,” which reminds people that they must never forget service members who have endured captivity and for those who still remain unaccounted for.
This will be a busy Friday night with the post participating in at least three remembrances for POW/MIA’s, along with raising funds for the Blue Devils at the fish fry, which is open to the public.
Still, Magnus said that walk across the field with the color guard remains special and poignant.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling you feel honoring your fellow brothers who laid down their life and weren’t as fortunate as you,” Magnus said. “It’s our way to respect them and it’s a wonderful feeling to see people in the stands recognizing veterans.”
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.