Ohio Flags of Honor, a traveling memorial honoring Ohio service members killed in the War on Terror, Iraq and Afghanistan, will be on display around the clock from 6 p.m. Sept. 13 to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Shoreway Shopping Center, 4128 Lake Road.
The free event will feature more than 900 full-size American flags, including one for each Ohio service member who has died, among them 14 from Lorain County and western Cuyahoga County.
Sheffield Lake residents Joe and Rosa Gee used money they had saved for a summer vacation to bring the memorial to Sheffield Lake.
“It's what we wanted to do this year instead of taking a vacation,” she said. “We wanted a spot where everyone could see it.”
When she mentioned their plan to Mayor Dennis Bring, he suggested the shopping center with its open area and available parking, plus it is lighted all night long.
Additional lighting will be set up so people can visit anytime, day or night. Gee said volunteers. including veterans groups and Scouts, will stand guard continuously at the memorial.
A planning committee is rounding out details for the event, which will include information booths for and about veterans organizations and support services.
The Gees first saw the memorial a few years ago when in Lorain. She said they felt brokenhearted that so few attended and attributed it, in part, to lack of publicity.
She said more than 300 Ohioans have died since 9/11, when the War on Terror started and troops went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides 300 flags bearing their names, family members and others are permitted to purchase a flag to honor a service member who has served during this time. For the Gees, that includes their two daughters and three sons-in-law.
The couple has long been active in veterans activities. Joe served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. He serves on the United Auto Workers local 2000 retired vets committee, has been a board member of Valor Home, mentors vets through Lorain County Veterans Court and serves on an honor guard at veterans events and funerals. She frequently helps her husband along with serving as Sheffield Lake councilwoman-at-large.
Michele Murphy is a freelance reporter from Avon Lake.