MEDINA — Bill Dyer served in the U.S. Army in the 1960s — “pre-Vietnam, during the situations in Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis,” he likes to say.
But the son remembers that “my first memories of the military were stars in the windows,” referring to decorations that signified the family had a member serving in Vietnam.
Thinking back, Ken Dyer said, it wasn’t his father’s military experience or the others that inspired him to sign up for the National Guard and then devote 31 years to the Army including two deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. He credits acquaintances at Mercyhurst University where he graduated with a degree in business and computer science.
But he recognizes fully how the military tradition has stayed in the Dyer family — and continues today with Dyer’s son and son-in-law both serving as Army captains.
Dyer, 53, and retired as a colonel, told an audience estimated in the thousands Monday at Spring Grove Cemetery on Memorial Day what the holiday is all about. He was the featured speaker for the ceremony following city’s annual parade that marched from the front of the Medina County Courthouse on Public Square onto East Liberty Street and to the cemetery. The ceremony included patriotic songs performed by the Medina High School and Claggett and Root middle school bands.
Dyer, who wears a pin on his uniform that says, “Soldier For Life,” said it was “an honor and a privilege” to be asked to speak and he had never done so at a ceremony before.
“It’s humbling to be here and memorialize those who were lost,” he said.
Looking back on his years of service, Dyer said he thinks about being “part of a team. You don’t think about leaving (the military). You have no plan to die.”
During his remarks, he noted that President John F. Kennedy said a nation reveals itself by the way it honors people, including the military.
He said the end of May is the perfect time for remembering those lost in service to their country because “it is the beginning of summer. There’s no more fitting time than the season of warmth and life.”
Dyer said he thinks of all those who served “as ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things.”
They served, he added, “with passion, joy and enthusiasm” and their thoughts were that “justice will prevail and freedom will reign.”
Describing the conditions in the world, Dyer said, “We need to strengthen ourselves for what lies ahead” and there is work to do, including having an attitude of “compassion.”
After his remarks, Dyer said he is happy to be back in Medina — with family including his wife, Judy; son, William; daughter, Maryssa, and son-in-law, Daniel; and daughter, Bridget — and working as an analyst for the Cleveland Clinic, putting to use his college experiences that included a master’s of business administration from Duquesne.
“This is a wonderful community,” he said of Medina. “Just look at all the decorations and the flags on the Square.”
Dyer’s parents, Bill and Joni — married 54 years — were among those in the audience as their son spoke.
Bill Dyer noted he had two brothers and a brother-in-law in military service.
“This is the favorite holiday,” Bill said, “more than July 4. It’s the most important. It’s more somber, more emotional.”
Joni Dyer said, “It’s good to see all the families and young people here. The Medina community loves the military.”
Contact Managing Editor Lawrence Pantages at (330) 721-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.