VILLAGE CLINTON, Ohio – A candlelight tribute was held at the Ohio Veterans Memorial Park in the village of Clinton, 10 miles southwest of Akron, for Ohio soldiers who gave their lives in service to our country.
Spread over 1.7 acres, the park is a growing tribute to fallen heroes from the War of 1812. It features the largest freestanding memorial in the United States, a 125-foot memorial wall inscribed with the names of thousands of Ohioans who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom.
Gary Kindig, the park’s president, a Vietnam veteran, told News 5 the park got its start in 2007, funded entirely by generous donations and maintained entirely by loyal volunteers.
“This is one of the unknown places in Ohio, and when people come here from far away, they’re blown away, they can’t believe what’s back here,” Kindig said. “This place is so special. It’s about paying tribute to the veterans and also to the families, you know the families that especially lost their veterans.”
Ohio Veterans Memorial Park vice president and Vietnam veteran Chuck Nicholas said the park and its memorial wall have a personal connection. Nicholas said the park is also about honoring US soldiers currently serving our country.
“There’s something about the wall, it pulls you back immediately,” Nicholas said. “I have classmates from high school, I have neighbors who are actually standing by this wall. I now have four grandchildren in the service, three in the Air Force and one of them in the Navy, and they always thank me. I say don’t thank me, I’m still here, you’re out there defending our country.”
The park also includes a Purple Heart memorial and a Medal of Honor memorial, as well as a reflecting pond and eternal flame honoring prisoners of war and missing persons.
In July, Ohio Veterans Memorial Park hosted a dedication where the names of 1,822 fallen Korean War veterans in Ohio were placed on the memorial wall. The event also paid tribute to local Korean War veterans such as George Theodore of Strongsville, who shared his personal story of service to his country.
Anyone interested in visiting, donating or volunteering at Ohio Veterans Memorial Park can find all the information they need on the park website.
Meanwhile, Kindig made it clear that the park continues to send a message to all Ohioans and everyone across the country.
“I want them to think of the men who gave us this freedom, very simply,” Kindig said. “Thank a vet wherever you see them, and not just on Veterans Day.”