Waynedale Political Commentaries

Thank You For Your Service! ~ Voice Of The Township

The Wayne Township Trustee Office will be closed on Friday, November 10th in observance of Veterans Day as November 11th falls on Saturday this year. Veterans make up such an important segment of our society in the United States that it is fitting we have so many ways of honoring their service—parades, holidays, Honor Flights, new Veterans Memorial Bridges and the “Thank you for your service!” spoken so often whenever someone recognizes a veteran.

For a little history, Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day as it commemorated the peace treaty that was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—November 11, 1919, effectively ending all military operations and hostilities in all theatres and fronts of World War I. Known as the Great War, the First World War had been a global conflict fought between two coalitions, the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. Fighting took place throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, and parts of Asia. It was the biggest war the world had seen up to that point in history. It is easy to imagine how relieved the world was to see that war come to an end.

Veterans Day, today, honors military service members from not just one war but all the conflicts in which the United States has been involved.

This last week, Trustee Austin Knox attended the funeral services of one such veteran, Richard Jerome Ridley, Jr, who, as a member of the U.S. Army, had served in the 101st Airborne Division, 101 Paratroopers, and the 327th Battle Group from 1956 to 1960.

Richard Ridley was important in Fort Wayne, breaking barriers as the first Black male student at Bethlehem Lutheran School and the first 4-year Black male student at Concordia Lutheran High School. From high school he entered the military, returned home, got his college degree and in 1961 became the first African-American to join the Fort Wayne Fire Department.

Mr. Ridley’s courage and discipline, increasing in his school years and in his military service, made him a role model for many coming up behind him. Genois Wilson, who became the first Black female firefighter in Fort Wayne, went through Mr. Ridley’s training classes. She remembers that there were no maneuvers he asked his students to do that he couldn’t perform himself.

Trustee Knox wrote in his condolence letter to Richard Ridley’s family, “As a graduate of Concordia High School myself and as the brother of a Fort Wayne firefighter, I am deeply beholden to the life of Richard Ridley. Because of his ground-breaking service and his insistence on excellence I know that many career paths have been paved and countless lives have been saved.”

To the memory of Mr. Ridley and to all who have come up through the United States military, the staff here at the Wayne Township Trustee Office wish to say on this Veterans Day, “Thank you for your service!”

Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox
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Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox

Trustee Austin Knox is a Fort Wayne native who, on January 10, 2020, was unanimously elected trustee at a caucus of Democratic precinct committee leaders of Wayne Township. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer