WILMINGTON — The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (ODVS) director traveled to Wilmington Friday for the first induction of a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 — the tireless veterans advocate Paul G. Butler of Clinton County.
Ohio Veterans Services Director Deborah Ashenhurst said Veterans Hall of Fame inductees are honored for their accomplishments and achievements during their post-military service.
“This Hall of Fame is about what veterans do after they return,” said Ashenhurst in her opening remarks at the Wilmington American Legion Post 49 facility in downtown Wilmington.
The 20 members of the Class of 2020 were chosen by the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame (HOF) Executive Committee from among 136 nominations.
“This truly is Paul Butler Day. And this is a day when we can say, ‘Wow, you just never stopped giving. You never stopped making a difference in the state.’ And not just for veterans, although you’ve done a lot of work with and for veterans, but all the other work you’ve done,” said the Ohio Veterans Services director.
John Hoppers of the Ohio Veterans HOF Executive Committee read aloud Butler’s official Hall of Fame biography. In a bow tie and jacket, Hoppers quipped beforehand that it is “always nice to say something nice about Navy men.”
The biography states in part: “A military historian and an eloquent presenter, Paul is a ready speaker at various Veterans Day programs and has helped put the outstanding accomplishments of fellow service members into the spotlight.”
The bio also observes that Butler “is passionate about mentoring and educating children, whether as a participant in Flags for First Graders, as a speaker at various high school programs, or through his many years as Buckeye Boys State chairman.”
Prior to the presentation of a framed certificate and the Hall of Fame medal, a video-recorded congratulatory message from Governor Mike DeWine was played.
Butler’s longtime friend John J. Arvai, Major USA Ret., placed the medal ribbon around Butler’s neck.
Standing behind the American Legion podium, Butler expressed thanks for the recognition and said, “This is a humbling, humbling moment. I’m not used to this. I’m used to being out there watching.”
He added, “I love this community. I’ve lived in Clinton County — it’s a very veteran-friendly community. And it’s just a blessing for me to be able to work with veterans everyday. I get to work with veterans for the fun of it. I love the veterans.”
In lieu of a traditional Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame induction ceremony, arrangements were made with the inductees to present their medals and certificates in venues where just a few people are present due to COVID-19.
Communications staff for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services will produce a video program that will include scenes from all 20 individual inductions. It will debut on Nov. 5, and a Veterans Services news release indicates interested persons can stay tuned to OhioVets.gov in the coming weeks for more information.
Members of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame are honored in a permanent display near the Ohio Statehouse at the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts located on High Street in Columbus.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.