On the beat: 05/19

Patriot Freedom Festival returns

By Jim Bucher

One of the wonderful things about my 20 years plus as a TV feature reporter in Dayton was all the lifelong friends I made. From local business owners to nonprofit-owners, it was an eye-opening experience that showed me what’s here in Dayton and the Miami Valley.

One of those aforementioned groups can’t get rid of me now.

They are the fine folks from the American Veteran’s Heritage Center (AVHC), who present The Patriot Freedom Festival out at the Dayton Veterans Affairs over Memorial Day weekend.

AVHC is a nonprofit corporation with an exciting mission led by a dedicated bunch of volunteers who will do anything and everything for our veteran heroes.

They preserve a priceless piece of national and local history: The National Soldiers’ Home, located at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Dayton.

And boy, is there a ton of history dating back to the Civil War–150 years of it.

In my own history, my father, James G. Bucher, served in World War II and fought for freedom in the Pacific Ocean Theater. He was a radio operator based in the Philippines.

Dad told me the story once… It was a Sunday and everyone was basically on R&R. He had his shirt off, shaving with half his face full of shaving cream when a general’s jeep drove by. That general happened to be the one and only Douglas MacArthur.

As the general and entourage passed his camp, Dad stopped dead in his tracks.

When he finally unfroze, Dad thought, “Oh my, I didn’t salute.”

We always laughed when he told that story. Dad is gone now, but I still have his stories from the diaries he wrote every day while in the service. Some were mundane: “Got up, took a cold shower, ate rice. Bed.” Others were peppered with excitement: “Air raid today, turned out they [the planes] were ours. Ate rice, went to bed.” He had a lot of these: “Ate rice, dysentery. Not fun. Sick of rice.”

Up until the day he died, the man never ate rice ever again.

There’s one entry that gives me chills. It’s the day the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Japan: “Not sure what happened, but everyone is talking. We are hoping this is the end of the war.”

“Big Jim,” as he was called, came home like millions of others, married my mom and had two baby-boomer kids, me and my brother Tom.

He took full advantage of the GI Bill, attending college, buying a home in Five Oaks (that I’m still in) and building a career with the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Dad never talked much about his years in World War II, just that his country called and he served. Dad was a true patriot, flying the flag every day.

He once shared that, of course, he was frightened, not knowing where this war overseas would take him, always reminding our family we couldn’t take our freedom for granted. And you know what, we don’t.

The one regret he had was that he never made it back to the place he spent four years of his life, the Philippines. Today, I think about how much he would love the event this weekend.

The Patriot Freedom Festival with its honoring ceremonies, tours of the historic grounds, historical military reenactors, equestrian team and The Miami Valley Military History Museum, teeming with memorabilia, music, food and fun.

And the best part is it’s free, for admission and parking.

It’s an event celebrating the men and women of the United States Military who made or are making daily sacrifices around the world for our freedoms here at home.

Sometimes, when we get caught up in our own lives, we forget to pause and give thanks to those who gave theirs so we could live our own.

So bring the family, neighbors, kids and enjoy an event that I guarantee will give a greater appreciation of our veterans—and a greater appreciation for yourself, too.

Whatever you do this weekend, whether it’s enjoying a backyard barbecue, jumping in a now-opened pool or catching a Hollywood blockbuster, remember the veterans. Remember their stories. Because without them, we wouldn’t be able to do any of those simple things.

God bless you and God bless America.

Cheers and have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.


A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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