U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a statement on Sept. 17 in USA Today describing the frightening suicide rate as 'epidemic' in proportion. The next day, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, asked the USO for home front help with this very serious issue that affects every family and neighborhood in our community.

And so, the USO of Northern Ohio is answering the call.

"We are hosting a symposium to raise awareness on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012," said Bob Hope (the late Bob Hope's nephew, who has the same name, and is currently president of the USO's board of directors).

The program will begin at 7 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 5800 Rockside Road in Independence. This event is free and open to the public.

"We are enlisting your support as family, caretakers, friends, concerned citizens, governmental offices, businesses, veteran organizations, and all who have an interest in the welfare of Armed Forces members, present and past, to attend this very important informational session to raise awareness and support of our military family," said Hope.

The keynote speakers are Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, adjutant general, State of Ohio; Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Coast Guard's 9th District; and Susan M. Fuehrer, director of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

"We are looking for partners in the community who can assist us with this very important mission," he said. "There are many resources dedicated to mental health and preparedness so the goal of this free symposium is to spotlight communication, awareness, and to serve as an informational conduit for those resources already in place."

"On behalf of our military community, we thank you for your support. Be proud, be strong, and be there for those who were there for us," said Hope.

Hope concluded: "Our service members and their families need your involvement with this initiative. Please contact me directly as this subject is time sensitive (216-265-3680), or register to attend at www.usonorthernohio.org for this important event."

Lincoln in Cleveland: President Abraham Lincoln was on an inagural tour following his election and he was on his way to Washington. So described an article that appeared in the Feb. 1, 1961, edition of The Cleveland Press.

I thought with the recent interest in Lincoln, this bit of history might be in order.

An eventful day in Cleveland's history will be re-enacted on Feb. 15 when "Abraham Lincoln" gives a three-minute address. The place will be the Rockefellar Building, over the exact spot where Lincoln stood when he was here. The Civil War had not yet begun, but clouds were gathering.

It was the only visit Lincoln made to Cleveland and its memory is being marked by the Ohio Civil War Centennial Committee and the Early Settlers Association. The organizers brought George J. Lehrer, noted Lincoln actor, from his home in Castalia to take the part of the martyred President. It will be accompanied by a color guard of the Cleveland Grays, just as Lincoln was on his visit a century ago.

Lehrer will give he same address that Lincoln gave.

It follows:

"Fellow citizens of Cleveland and Ohio. We have cone here upon a very inclement afternoon. We have marched for two miles through the rain and mud. Your large numbers testify that you are in earnest about something and what is that something? Do I desire that this extreme earnestness is about me? I should be exceedingly sorry to see such devotion if that were the case, but I know it is paid to something worth more than any one man or any thousands, or even ten thousand men. A devotion to the Constitution, to the Union, and to the laws; in the perpetual liberty of the people of this country; it is fellow citizens, for the whole American people and not for one single man alone, to advance toward the great cause.

"We differ in opinion somewhat. Some of you didn't vote for him who now addresses you, although quite enough of you did for all practical purposes, to be sure.

"I have not strength, fellow citizens, to address you at great length, and I pray that you will excuse me; but rest assured that my thanks are as cordial and sincere, for the efficient aid which you gave to the good cause in working for the good of the nation, as for the votes which you gave me last fall.

"If Judge Douglas had been chosen president of the United States and had this evening been passing through your city, the Republicans ought in the same manner to have come out to receive him. If we don't make common cause to save the good old ship, nobody will, and this should be so. It is a matter of interest to all that it should be so.

"To all of you, then, who have done me the honor to participate in this cordial welcome, I return most sincerely my thanks, not for myself but for Liberty, the Constitution and the Union I bid you an affectional farewell."

Items for this column can be mailed to Ron Seman, 5811 Renwood Drive, Parma, 44129, or email: SemanRJ@aol.com.