MACEDONIA -- A symbolic shovel ceremony was held at the new Nordonia Hills Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Route 82 and South Bedford Road May 9.
Local veterans attended in the form of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6768, American Legion Post 801, and residents. City and Sagamore Hills Township officials attended, as did many city employees. The sun shone down on the park as Chaplain Tom O'Brien of American Legion Post 801 emceed the event, along with speakers Macedonia Mayor Joe Migliorini, VFW Quartermaster Dan Davis and Post 802 Commander Dave Pristash.
Migliorini paid tribute to former Mayor Don Kuchta, also in attendance, for starting the project. Migliorini added he is happy to support the project and keep the ball rolling.
"The city has partnered with the VFW and Post 801 and it's our honor to be involved in such a great tribute to those who have served our country, fallen for our country," Migliorini said.
Migliorni said the park sits on land that was donated to the city by Col. E.C. Peck. in 1928.
When completed, the park will consist of the main memorial honoring all veterans on a plaza made of pavers with three flag poles. There will be a special spot for the names of Nordonia Hills veterans who were killed in action.
Davis said the killed in action section is the "most sacred part of the park" to him.
"All of the military members from Nordonia Hills who gave their life in defense of America will have memorial bricks placed at this plaza, along with a reflecting pond," Davis said choking back tears.
Plans are also for up to 12 smaller memorials with a brief history of each of the major conflicts since the Revolutionary War. The original memorial from World War I will be returned to the park as well. Handicapped-accessible picnic tables and benches will be placed throughout the park along the walkways as well as ADA compliant bathrooms.
Pristash said the individual war monuments will set the park apart from other memorials honoring those who served. He said the reasons to build the memorial include the 1,323,346 military men and women have died "in theater" or during combat dating back to the revolutionary war. Pristash said he personally knew seven of those men while he was serving in Vietnam.
"You never forget the people you served with that didn't come home," Pristash said.
He said 1,688,487 military personnel wounded in the same time frame include himself and three people he knew.
He said the dedication is planned for a day near Sept. 15, Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Day. He said because Sept. 15 is a Friday, planners may decide to hold it on a Saturday to allow more people to attend.
O'Brien said the total cost of the memorial is expected to be about $350,000. Officials say as of press time approximately $112,000 has been collected.
Bricks and benches are being sold to help pay for additions to the park. Veterans from VFW Post 6768 and American Legion Post 801 are helping with the volunteer effort. Bricks with names inscribed range in price from $100 to $500, while 6-foot benches with a brass plate inscriptions of an individual, company or organization are $3,500. Picnic tables are $4,000, and monetary donations can also be made.
For more information about the memorial park or to make a donation visit nordoniahillsveteransmemorialpark.com.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432