Veterans honor their fallen comrades with traveling memorial

by Kathleen Steele Gaivin

The Northfield VFW Post 6768 hosted the Ohio Flags of Honor Traveling Memorial on the post’s grounds in June. The traveling memorial paid tribute to the more than 5,000 service men and women who lost their lives in the War on Terror since Sept. 11, 2001.  

310 American flags were part of the memorial, representing Ohio’s sons and daughters lost since 9/11. Each pole was inscribed with the name of a fallen service person. The exhibit included 32 tribute towers displaying both military and personal photos. The photographic war memorial honored those who were killed in action, and those who died after coming home as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to many veteran suicides.

“The members on our committee did an outstanding job of working tirelessly to ensure our fallen comrades since 9/11 will never be forgotten. The outreach received from the community and their support was greatly appreciated,” Post Commander Clint Ulrich said. “We had over 30 Gold Star families who lost a son, daughter, brother, sister, mother or father who came to remember their loved one.”

Post Chaplain Rev. Peter Lawson, pastor of Northfield Presbyterian, spoke at the opening ceremony for the exhibit on June 24. Lawson retired from the National Guard as a lieutenant colonel. In a previous interview with the “Sagamore Voice,” the minister said he was deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005 and 2006 as brigade chaplain for the 2/28th Pennsylvania National Guard Combat Team, and to Kuwait in 2008 as the division chaplain for the 28th infantry division of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The photographic war memorial honored those who were killed in action and veterans who took their lives as a result of PTSD. Photo by Kathy Gaivin

“These are our fellow countrymen who chose this unique profession, this unique pathway of life. It’s a relatively small percentage of people who do this. Less than one-half of 1% of the U.S. population has pursued the military career…then you narrow it down to those who have actually been put in harm’s way, the percentage goes down even further.” Lawson continued, “That’s an incredible thing that a nation asks of its citizens, these precious few to risk everything for the sake of the many. Yet these service men and women assumed that risk when their country called upon them. For making this ultimate sacrifice, we owe them a tremendous debt.”

The exhibit was originally scheduled to come to Northfield a year ago, but the post decided to hold off due to the pandemic. This was the first time the memorial was on display in Northeast Ohio. ∞