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Ladies Grand Army of the Republic honors veterans in Monongahela

| Thursday, May 30, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Members of the Mon Valley Honor Guard stand at attention during the playing of Taps at the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial service honoring all veterans in post Civil War tradition at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium in Monongahela, on Wednesday, May, 29, 2013.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Eagle Scout Ethan Walker of Hookstown tosses flowers into the Monongahela River during the memorial service of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium in Monongahela on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.

In 1891, the Rev. J.E. Diettrich conceived the idea of scattering flowers and wreaths upon the water to memorialize naval personnel killed at sea in battle.

The local Starkweather Circle 173 chapter of the Ladies Grand Army of the Republic has been doing so since 1913.

On Wednesday, the LGAR held its annual memorial service at the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium in Monongahela. The theme of the event was “reconciliation.” It recalled the reconciliation among Union and Confederate veterans during the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Following tradition, Eagle Scout Ethan Walker cast flowers on the Monongahela River as Katie Tolliver sang “Amazing Grace.”

The Mon Valley Honor Guard fired a salute and played “Taps.”

The event was dedicated to Joseph U. Frye, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and relative of Starkweather Circle members, and Annabelle Baughman Caldwell, a member of the Monongahela Historical Society and a friend of Starkweather members.

Pastor Kenneth Kirby of the First Baptist Church, Monongahela, gave an address that focused on the theme of this year's event.

Kirby recalled that the country was “torn to shreds over the Vietnam War.” He said Vietnam vets like himself were branded by anti-war protestors, but surmised that all wars have had their detractors.

“America has come a long way toward the way it treats reconciliation for its veterans,” Kirby said.

Kirby said although our nation adopted the slogan “One Nation Under God,” we act in opposition – banning prayer in school and public offices, for example.

“Every time man tries to prove the Bible wrong, God wins and man is defeated,” Kirby said.

“We can't as Americans continue the way we're going until we reconcile with God.”

Kirby said God has blessed this country.

“If we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ today, we will be victorious,” Kirby said.

“Men died for our freedoms. I ask you as a nation to get right with God.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or