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Jesse Thomas Honored at Parkesburg, PA Ceremony (abbreviated version)

by Chris Barber, Daily Local News, 20 May 2013

PARKESBURG -- With a parade and get-together on Sunday afternoon, the community paid tribute to members of the military who gave their lives for America.

The event was held a week before the traditional Memorial Day weekend because organizers felt that many people leave town at the end of May and there would be more spectators at mid-month.

The speaker at the service at the borough firehouse was Edward Fisher, who served in the U.S. Army for 27 years and now represents LEEK Hunting and Mountains Preserve, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded service men and women.

He praised the spectators from Parkesburg and other small towns, saying that places like theirs is where patriotism lives. "You live and breathe the Constitution," he said.

He said he has been to many places in the world and has seen many embassies where people form long lines for blocks to get visas to come to America. "There's nobody in line at the Egyptian or Russian embassies," he said.

Fisher also praised veterans of all American wars.

He gave special recognition to World War II veteran Jesse Thomas of Parkesburg, who sat behind him on the stage. Thomas is the sole surviving member of the team that raised the flag on Okinawa on June 22, 1945, when Americans captured the island during World War II.

He said that for veterans who were injured and their families, everyday is Memorial Day. He urged his audience to get involved in organizations that help wounded warriors, because there are many of them around still fighting their battles to recover.

Jesse Thomas with picture of flag raising, 2013