Nov. 11, Veterans Day; a day to remember those who served and died for our country and our way of life. Many of us are familiar with the words, "On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month..." The War to End All Wars ended, the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany; but it didn't end the wars. The wars only became more sophisticated, the killing more efficient.
Over 37 million soldiers and civilians were killed in World War I, the equivalent of the population of Tokyo; or New York City and Los Angeles combined; or more than the entire population of Canada. But that was a paltry number compared to World War II where over 63 million people died. The number of casualties is unimaginable.
And so, every year, we pause our busy lives, perhaps, to remember those men and women we knew personally. There is one gentleman in Ripley, however, to whom this day is personal. Scott Freligh, 53 years old, has made it his personal goal to give homage and respect to all the members of his family who have served in the Armed Forces.
Scott Freligh of Ripley has an apartment covered with articles on military service. Below is his father, Howard.
His apartment walls are covered with photos, newspaper articles, medals and correspondence of his father, uncles, brother and brother-in-law, cousins and nephews. Among his collection of memorabilia are two Purple Hearts and countless ribbons and service medals. Scott takes his remembrance of servicemen seriously.
Scott started collecting five years ago, about the same time the Ripley Veterans Roll of Honor monument was dedicated. "My brother, Larry, sent me a couple newspaper articles he had," Scott told me, "and that got me started." Each member of his extended military family has his own poster size frame filled with photographs, certificates, newspaper clippings and other articles of his service; all arranged and mounted by Scott. "I enjoy doing this," he said. Family members and friends come to visit, to read the information, to talk about those who served, and to remember.
Scott's father, Howard, showed off his framed board. "Dad's ship was sunk in the South Pacific by two Japanese boats loaded with TNT," Scott relates; Howard is one of the lucky ones to have returned home alive. Scott's brother-in-law, Jerry Carr, was not so lucky. He was killed in Vietnam. There are other casualties of war on his walls, but Jerry hits me the hardest, because he was the one I knew.
The sheer number of frames is astounding. They line Scott's living room walls and spill over into his bedroom. The dedication Scott shows is heart-warming. His work is far from over, he tells me. He's still collecting information and articles about his family. It's an ongoing labor of love. Scott Freligh doesn't just pause to remember the veterans on Nov. 11th; he honors them every day of his life. Would that more of us could be that aware of the sacrifice being made for us. God bless, Scott.
Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org