LIMA — Every name has a story.
For Pfc. Donald E. Rayburn, that story is told in a poem.
The Lima soldier was killed during World War II in Germany on Oct. 1, 1944. Private Rayburn’s body was subsequently moved back to Lima and re-interred at Shawnee Cemetery on Dec. 10, 1947. The impact on his wife, Naomi Rayburn, was such that she wrote a poem to express her feelings of despair.
The poem was uncovered through research done by the Allen County Veterans Memorial Foundation. It was originally published in The Lima News in September 1945.
In loving memory of my husband, PVT. Donald K. Rayburn, who was killed in Germany, October 1, 1944:
The call was sudden, the shock severe.
With little thought such grief was near.
Only those who have lost loved ones can tell,
the pain and parting without farewell.
Some may think we are not lonely
when at times they see us smile.
Little do they know the heartache
that we suffer all the while.
When evening shadows are falling,
and we are sitting all alone,
In our hearts there comes a longing,
Oh, if you could come back home.
Faces of War
David and Kathleen Paxton had hoped to contact Naomi Rayburn to learn more about her story, but unfortunately, she too had died.
The Paxtons have made it their mission to help erect a memorial to all the Allen County veterans who died while serving their country. The theme for the Allen County War Memorial will be Faces of War. This will include a section on families and how war impacted them with the loss of their loved one. The Memorial Foundation is looking for volunteers to help find these stories.
“The objective has always been to build a war memorial for the veterans of Allen County, specifically honoring those who have lost their lives, made the ultimate sacrifice, in service to their country,” said David Paxton.
The vision is to have a memorial in which there would be a ceremonial or gathering area for organizations to use for various veteran related observances. This gathering space would lead visitors into an area where the actual memorials and remembrance plaques for each honoree would be located.
“The goal is that the plaques will not just have the veteran’s name, rank and military service on it,” says Paxton. “It will have their story as to who they were and when and how they died.”
Gathering those stories has proven to be quite the task. Kathleen Paxton has been the one coordinating the research into each of the veterans on the foundation’s 714-member list that is on the website allencountyveterans.org. There are many veterans with their stories documented. The searchable database covers from the Mexican-American War through the Afghanistan conflict of today.
The Paxtons agree the research for veteran information is the most time-consuming part of their project.
“Volunteers to do research on these veteran’s stories would be a great help,” said David Paxton. “We have some good websites that provide good information, but just getting to it in a timely way can be tough.”
He added, “Another way to bring these stories to light would be for individuals who had relatives or friends who may have been killed in a war to search the database for the name of the individual and, if found, contact the Allen County Veterans Memorial Foundation with any information that could be added to the database. Also, if you are looking for a relative or friend, the database could help find information you are seeking.”
A two-acre site at the northeast corner of state Route 117 and Bowman Road has been set as the location of the new memorial.
Reach Derek Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, to donate, or to volunteer go to allencountyveterans.org