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Waggoner Cemetery Memorial Service held

| May 22, 2017

WEST LAFAYETTE – The first burial was held in Waggoner Cemetery in 1811 and some of the words can still be read on the tombstone. On May 20, the day the Friends of Waggoner Cemetery held their annual Memorial Service this stone was decorated with pink flowers.

Michelle Carpenter is an Oxford Township Trustee and also on the board of directors for the Friends of Waggoner Cemetery. The group was formed in February of 1992 with the purpose of maintaining the cemetery. Waggoner Cemetery has special meaning to Carpenter, as six generations of her family are buried there and she remembers going as a child to help clean the graves and plant flowers.

“We hold our Memorial Service to honor and remember the people buried here,” said Carpenter. Last year, the Friends of Waggoner Cemetery purchased enough flowers to decorate every grave. Usually there are 40-50 stones decorated. “I hear a lot of compliments about how beautiful this cemetery is. People come for walks here and always remark about how quiet and peaceful it is. The township has great employees (Chuck Lahna and John Thompson) that care for the four cemeteries in our township.”

Carpenter wants to encourage other people to start groups like theirs. “It’s a lot of work, but so worth it,” she said. There are many small cemeteries in Coshocton County that are simply disappearing into the fields and woods. She believes people need to step up and help take care of these cemeteries before they are lost forever.

The memorial service was opened by Carpenter who welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. Pastor Harold Sprague, from the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, said the opening prayer. Carpenter then introduced U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs, 18th District. Gibbs reminded the crowd that America was founded on a simple principle – that people can govern themselves. He spoke of America having Christian values and that people need to be sure to pass on these values to their children.

Gibbs encouraged attendees to remember that freedom isn’t free and while they are having cookouts on Memorial Day to pause and think about those who gave all so our country would remain free. “When I am asked to speak at these types of events, I like to recite the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln could have no idea that his words would still be thought of today as some of the wisest every spoken.” He then began, “Four score and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…. that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” The cemetery was silent as his words trailed off.

State Representative Larry Householder, from the 72nd District, was the next speaker. “I am thankful to be from a generation of leaders. Our scout leaders, coaches, neighbors, all understood the cost of the freedoms we had. They taught us to salute the flag and to have respect. This generation was from World War II.”  Householder shared the story of a man he knew when he was a child. When the man died, Householder learned that he had volunteered to serve in the Army when he was 18 that he was at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. “That man showed what true bravery is.”

Householder also shared a quote from Robert Ingersoll – “In the night of death, hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.” He asked that everyone remember those lost and honor those who are still fighting for the freedom of the greatest country.

Carpenter read the names of the veterans who are buried in the cemetery. The list included eight from the Civil War, one from World War II and one from the Korean War. She placed a wreath near the flag pole and the Newcomerstown Veterans Organization honored those who have served with a gun salute and by playing “Taps.”

A covered dish luncheon was held after the service at the River Greens Golf Course.

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