New monuments installed in Veterans Memorial Park in Macedonia

Jeff Saunders
Kent Weeklies
Members of the Nordonia Hills Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, which has spearheaded the effort to create the park over the last few years, were on hand when this monument and two others were installed Thursday, From left, Vice President Dan Davis, President Dave Pristash, Historian Kay Krasnicki, associate member Bob Zarle, Secretary Jim Krasnicki, and Treasurer Frank Posar.

NORDONIA HILLS — As Kay Krasnicki stood next to the granite monument at Veterans Memorial Park in Macedonia on Thursday, she spoke lovingly of it and other nearby monuments.

“These are my babies, my chicks,” she said.

Krasnicki, historian and a trustee with the Nordonia Hills Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, designed the monuments with input from other foundation members and she and they had just watched a massive crane on a truck lower three new monuments onto their pedestals.

One of three monuments installed Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park in Macedonia on Thursday waits its turn in the air before it is placed on its pedestal.

The monuments, which include photographs engraved on the polished slabs, are each dedicated to a war the nation has fought during its 244-year history.

Two of the new monuments are for World War II — the European, African and Middle East theaters and the Asiatic and Pacific theaters. The third is for the Korean War. They join previously installed monuments for the War on Terror — Afghanistan, Iraq and the Islamic State War — Vietnam and World War I.

Jack Taylor guides to its pedestal one of three monuments installed at Veterans Memorial Park in Macedonia while his father John stands by on Thursday. The Taylors work for Cleveland-based Kotecki Family Memorials, which is contracted to handle the installation.

Foundation President Dave Pristash said the World War I monument had temporarily been placed next to the Vietnam monument in 2018, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the War to End All Wars conclusion.

The World War I monument was moved four spaces down on Thursday to its permanent location to make room for the three new monuments.

The monuments are arranged along the outside of a half-circle concrete walkway on the park’s west side. The idea is that people entering the 3/4-acre park’s main entrance at the corner of Route 82 and South Bedford Road can walk the walkway and visit each monument in reverse chronological order.

Some of the monuments in place have benches across from them and the plan is to eventually have benches across from all of the monuments.

Pristash said monuments still to be installed include the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War.

“It’s kind of related to fundraising. I hope, optimistically next year,” he said, adding that it is possible it may take until 2022 until they are all in.

“It might go another year,” he said.

Installing the latest monuments is not the only new development. That same morning, said Pristash, foundation members completed work on a new memorial to area residents killed in action.

“It has the name of everybody in it who was killed in combat,” said Pristash.

It consists of a small area covered in bricks, some of which have the names and other information of service members. In the center is a plaque engraved with the image of a pair of boots on a grassy area, a rifle sticking vertically up from between them with its muzzle in the ground and a set of dog tags hanging down and a helmet perched on top.

On the left side in vertical lettering are the words “Nordonia Hills Military Killed in Action” and on the right, “Never forget the price they paid.”

Surrounding the memorial is a low black wrought iron fence that Pristash said is 100 years old and was salvaged from the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery and restored by the foundation.

“It was in bad shape,” he said.

Previously installed over the last few years are a main entrance archway under which visitors walk on brick as they approach a large central monument, beyond which is an area planted with flowers and three flag poles. On the east side of the park are memorials that include  a restored 75 mm World War I artillery barrel and a 57 mm World War II anti-tank gun and a pavilion that was completed last year.

“It’s gotten a lot of use,” said Pristash, referring to the pavilion. “In fact, we had a wedding in there [Sept. 18].”

Roughly in the center of the park is a gazebo, a holdover from when the space was Memorial Park, the smallest of the three city parks.

Pristash said much of the work, including design, brickwork, and plantings are the work of foundation members. The pavilion was paid for by the foundation and a donation from the Rotary Club of Nordonia Hills, with local builder Dave Fike providing labor.

“He donated his services and just passed along the material costs to us,” said Pristash.

Pristash said foundation members also did not lay the concrete or install sprinklers and the city is planning to build restrooms, which he hopes will be completed by next summer.

The effort in creating the park is a joint initiative of American Legion Nordonia Hills Post 801 and Northfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6768. The project originated in January 2015 when Carl Quesenberry of American Legion Post 801 suggested the creation of a memorial to honor veterans and Post Chaplain Tom O’Brien lobbied the city to allow the memorial in Memorial Park, with then-Mayor Don Kuchta and City Council agreeing.

In 2016, then-Mayor Joseph Migliorini suggested that the entire park be converted into one large memorial for veterans. The post’s Advisory Planning Committee invited the VFW post to participate and plans began. Work began in 2017.

In 2018, however, the posts realized that it would take several years to complete the project and a separate entity was needed. The foundation incorporated in fall 2018 and the IRS granted 501(c)(3) status in July 2019.

Estimates are the total cost of the project will be as much as $500,000, mostly covered by donations and contributions of materials and labor.

Krasnicki said that design work on the three latest monuments combined took her about a year, including research and finding photographs. She said that in choosing photos, she tried to strike a balance; not too graphic but at the same time depicting the experience of war as it was.

“I try to capture the feel of what it felt like for the veterans,” she said, adding “Some of this stuff makes me cry.”

For more information, see www.nhvmp.com.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.