Preserving the past, one interview at a time

By Melanie Yingst - TDN Columnist

In honor of what was first known as Armistice Day, I hope each and every one of our veterans here in the Miami Valley has a wonderful Veterans Day weekend.

Veterans Day is dedicated to honoring military servicemen and women who served our country, whether they were deployed in war or in peacetime. Because they are often confused, Memorial Day is the day to honor those who died in service or were injured in battle.

I’ve observed several schools use the weeks leading up to Veterans Day to learn more about their local military servicemen and women — in the community and in their own families. I especially enjoyed Cookson Elementary School’s personal touch for their observance of Veterans Day. Students were asked to list their family members who have served or are currently serving and also included those who have passed and brought them to school. The hallway was lined with names around an American flag made out of each student’s hand tracing.

It’s the little nods of patriotism and reflection that fill my heart to see.

I also enjoy seeing all the social media pictures and tributes to parents, grandparents and even themselves in their uniforms.

And of course, there are many civic services taking place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month this morning.

I’d like to take the time to highlight one of the hidden gems right here in our community — the Miami Valley Veterans Museum. The museum is located at 107 W. Main St., Troy, and is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

One of the unique services this non-profit organization provides is recording local veterans’ stories of service. A handful of local veterans have participated, telling their stories, which can also be found online on YouTube if you search for the museum’s name. Approximately a dozen veterans are featured online, including two World War II veterans. Another highlight of the “Veterans History Project” interviews includes the late Sheriff Charles A. Cox, who served in the Army. While in the Army, Sheriff Cox served in Korea as a military policeman and obtained the rank of sergeant. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1968.

From stories of passing the blood pressure exam in his sleep, fighting off Fort Gordon fleas from his dinner, you can hear the late sheriff shift back and forth with humor to sincerity as he described patrolling bases in South Korea throughout the interview. The stories are riddled with laughter and a few tense moments in front of his commander for not saluting or the time he arrested a few officers he found as he was patrolling the area of the Red Cross “Donut Dollies” in below freezing temperatures.

I never had the honor of knowing Sheriff Cox very well, but I enjoyed his candid interview about his military service.

In honor of Veterans Day, I’d like to thank those who took the time to encourage our local veterans, like the late Sheriff Cox, to share their stories to be preserved for generations to come. My late grandfather never spoke much about his brief time in the Army in World War II, and I wish he had. But like so many others, he simply was doing his duty, came home and went back to work and reunited with their families.

There have been several other veterans I wish I had had the privilege to interview. Many of them were at the request of their families who thought maybe I could get them to share their story of service — the good, the bad and the ugly of war. I would be honored to talk with anyone willing to share.

Thank you to all the volunteers at the museum who have donated their time and contributed stories, medals, uniforms, books and more, to allow the museum to continue to thrive.

And to all the veterans, thank you for your service in times of war and in time of peace. We are thankful for each and every one of you.

By Melanie Yingst

TDN Columnist

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.