Governor, First Lady DeWine Honor Fallen Ohio Heroes at Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Government and Politics

May 23, 2024

From: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

Columbus, OH --Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine hosted a wreath-laying ceremony on May 23rd, to honor Ohio service members who sacrificed their lives while serving their country, protecting our freedom, and building a brighter future for others.

The Governor’s Wreath-Laying Ceremony takes place each year ahead of Memorial Day. This year’s event was held at the Veterans Plaza on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse.

“There is a powerful message in the expression, ‘freedom is not free.’ The families of the fallen – our Gold Star families – understand this on a level the rest of us can only imagine,” Governor DeWine said. “The Ohio military men and women whom we remember and celebrate at this event were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They believed in freedom, took an oath to defend it, and gave their lives doing just that. We owe them a debt we can never repay.”

During the ceremony, Governor DeWine recognized Army Sgt. Joseph P. Collette of Lancaster, who died in Afghanistan at the age of 29 as a result of wounds he sustained while trying to save a fellow soldier.

Sgt. Collette’s mother, Theresa Mecionis, spoke about her son’s life and his sacrifice during the ceremony.

“It has been five years since he was killed in action in Afghanistan while protecting his unit. I recently heard the saying, ‘grief is love that has nowhere to go.’ I think that’s why sometimes we feel so lost,” Mecionis said. “In honor of Memorial Day, let’s reach out for help, check on each other, share feelings, tell stories. Let’s honor the fallen and thank and reach out to the living.”

Additional Gold Star families were also in attendance and honored during the ceremony.

Following the wreath-laying, a rifle salute was conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Honor Guard, “Taps” was played by a bugler from the 122nd Ohio Army National Guard Band, and a flyover was performed by the Ohio Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing.

“Memorial Day is a reminder to us all of the price that has been paid for the freedoms we enjoy. We must never forget the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation, and we honor the family members they left behind,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio Adjutant General.

“It is important on Memorial Day that we take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and to recognize the sacrifices of their families. I’m grateful that the Governor holds this ceremony every year to ensure that we never forget,” said Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, retired) Deborah Ashenhurst, Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

A full recording of the ceremony can be found on The Ohio Channel website.