About 2:30 p.m. Friday, Barbara Marunowski was buried in Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

Little biographical information was available about Marunowski except that she was the mother of one son and was married to Paul Marunowski, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard as an AT2 — an aviation electronics technician petty officer, 2nd class. He is buried in Section 12, Site 2145.

Day after day, new arrivals add to the list of about 30,000 veterans and their spouses and the long lines of markers that pay tribute to them.

On Sunday, the cemetery will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony, and Gold Star mother Christine Runkle is set to be the keynote speaker for the noon event.

She is scheduled to tell the story of just one of the 30,000 — her son — to the assembled living.

“Having her come in and talk from a mother’s perspective … I don’t think there will be a dry eye when she is done speaking,” said Mark Polen, director of the cemetery.

Runkle’s son, John, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army was killed May 26, 2011, in an attack in Afghanistan. He was 27.

Polen said the Sunday ceremony each year averages about 1,500 people. Given good weather, that number can rise above 2,000.

He said the cemetery plans to run golf carts to escort people from parking areas, and the event is to include patriotic songs, comments from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Wayne County’s 555th Honors Detachment. The unit performs military rites at Western Reserve and other cemeteries.

“The goal — the hope — is always for the keynote speaker to tell everybody something they did not think of before,” Pollen said.

The Memorial Day event, he said, “has personal meaning to every one of us.”

Runkle’s speech will end and the event will come to a close, and the burials will pause on Monday, too, as Memorial Day is observed.

And then, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, former Cleveland resident Leonard Roy Gavlen will join his comrades-in-arms.

 

Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or aashworth@thebeaconjournal.com.