CLINTON War is neither peaceful nor tranquil. Yet, those two words perhaps best describe the Ohio Veterans' Memorial Park in Clinton. Visitors are struck by the calm and serene atmosphere of the park, something at odds with the death and devastation that are associated with war.
Yet, as you walk the grounds, the cost of man's inability to get along peacefully is forcibly brought home as the visitor looks at etchings and photos of young men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country.
The park, which was dedicated in 2009, covers 1.7 acres in a rural setting in Clinton. The park receives no government funding and is maintained through private donations, grants, fundraisers, and merchandise sales.
The central section of the memorial is the 125 foot long granite Memorial Wall with the words "Lest We Forget " embossed at the top of the west side. Underneath that inscription are listed alphabetically all the 3,095 Ohioans who lost their lives during the war in Vietnam. On the east side are listed the various wars that Ohio has been involved in since it became a state in 1803. The names of those Ohioans who have been killed in the war on terror, starting with the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, are listed.
The Memorial Wall is not secured by any mechanical means, but is held in place by its own weight. This makes it the longest free-standing monument wall in the U.S. At either end, two eagle statutes gaze down toward each other, eternally watching over these fallen Ohio heroes.
A little to southeast of the wall is the POW/MIA Reflecting Pond and Eternal Flame. Patterned after the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., the 50 foot black granite wall starts at one foot, then climbs to eight feet, before sloping back down to one foot. The reflecting pond is fed by a slow, cascading stream. The eternal flame burns continuously, and will do so until all POW/MIA's return.
Two statues face at the wall, one on the east and one on the west side. These are the Gold Star Mothers and Fathers, reverently holding American flags as they gaze at the wall, as if looking for their lost sons or daughters.
Around the wall are other tributes to Ohio's fallen heroes. Numerous red paving stones are embossed with the names of Ohioans from the many different wars. Grey-barre upright granite monuments surround the park, dedicated by various groups. Smaller flat granite markers are placed at the base of young, flowering peach trees which will eventually encircle the park. Polished black granite benches are all around the park, dedicated to both individuals and groups of veterans. A Family of Heroes Hall Tile honor both living and deceased veterans. These are etched black granite tiles and are placed outside on the wall of the pavillon. There are also monuments dedicated to the Medal of Honor winners and the Purple Heart.
There is little actual military weapons on display in the park. A Bell Cobra gunship is on a pedestal to the east. Nearby is a Vietnam era M-60 tank. Otherwise, the park is clear of military equipment.
Perhaps the most poignant impression a visitor gets as he or she walks around the park and views all these memorials is the young age of most of the fallen. Wars are not fought by old men, they are the ones who send the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines into combat, and these young men and women are the ones who must pay the price. Looking at their names, a visitor must wonder what they might have achieved if their lives had not been cut short by enemy fire. But that was not to be the case, and a profound sense of loss is evident as their names are viewed. Such is the cost of war.
Perhaps this sacrifice can be best summed up on a bench dedicated by the city of Wooster with an inscription from English poet J.M. Edmonds. "When you go home, Tell them of us, and say, For their tomorrow, We gave our today."
A visit to this beautiful memorial would be a fitting way to honor the sacrifice made by America's veterans over the Memorial Day Weekend. Anyone who wants information on the Ohio Veteran's Memorial Park can visit its website at www.ovmp.org. or by calling 330-773-2385. The park is at 8005 Cleveland-Massillon Rd, Clinton and is accessible from Route 93.