City dedicates Valor Acres’ Memorial Park

by Dan Holland

More than 100 area residents turned out May 22 for the dedication ceremony of Memorial Park at Valor Acres, a mixed-use site being developed by DiGeronimo Companies on the site of the former Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

The small park is centered around the smokestack of the former hospital, which was decommissioned on Sept. 5, 2011 – 50 years to the day that it first opened in 1961. It includes a central granite monument adorned with the original 1961 dedication plaque to the hospital, with six additional stone monuments dedicated to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.

The site also includes a retention pond surrounded by a walking path that is located in the residential section of Valor Acres. The property was purchased by the city in 2018.

A presentation of the flags and Pledge of Allegiance by American Legion Excelsior Post 196 opened the ceremony.

Guest speakers included former Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby; Dr. Timothy Heimann, acting associate director of VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System; Susan Fuehrer, senior adviser for the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary for Health, Department of Veterans Affairs; and Dr. Richard McCormick, former director of Mental Health Care Line for the VA Healthcare System of Ohio.

“Valor Acres, which now occupies this land, was named as a tribute to the VA Hospital,” Brecksville Mayor Daryl Kingson said during the dedication ceremony’s opening remarks. The administration, medical and non-medical staff, firefighters, police officers and volunteers who worked at this facility, the milestones and achievements that occurred within its walls, and the military service members and veterans who served or presently serve our country with honor and valor.

“Let us not forget the institution that played a pioneering role in the medical care and well-being of our nation’s veterans “ he added. “May God bless our veterans who served and the military service members who continue to serve and preserve the freedom of the United States of America.”

Fuerher thanked Hruby and DiGeronimo Companies for their efforts in preserving the memory of the former VA Hospital and honoring U.S. military veterans as a vital component of the development.

“As we embark on this Memorial Day weekend, let us all remember that the price of freedom has never been and never will be free,” said Fuerher. “This memorial will serve as a perpetual remembrance of all our nation’s heroes and their families who have made numerous sacrifices so we can be free.”

Hruby thanked several past and present community members who were involved in the development of and many successes of the VA Hospital, as well as those working to memorialize its legacy.

“I want to thank the men and women I see here who have served the community over the years,” He said. “You have served the VA admirably. You’ve helped this hospital over the years, and I thank you as employees. This has been a wonderful experience for our city. The VA has done wonderful things for those who have served and also for the city of Brecksville. We should always remember the importance of the VA to the city of Brecksville and to this country.”

Kingston said he is happy the city of Brecksville could “be a part of this wonderful Memorial Park dedication.”

“To honor the old VA Hospital that stood here for 50 years, and all the great things this facility did for our veterans and continue to do for our veterans to this day,” he said. ∞

Kevin DiGeronimo, Jerry Hruby, Susan Fuehrer, Mayor Daryl Kingston, Commander Bill Eddy and Dr. Timothy Heimann look on as Monica Klipfell (third from right) cuts the ribbon at the Memorial Park dedication ceremony on May 22. Photo by Dan Holland.

On our cover (photo): Members of the Brecksville American Legion Excelsior Post 196 raise the U.S. Flag during the May 22 ribbon cutting at Valor Acres’ Memorial Park. Photo by Dan Holland.