AMVETS Post 102 and American Legion Post 115 are bringing the Lima Co. traveling memorial, “Eyes of Freedom” to the city of Delaware for the first time from May 29 to June 3 at the Ohio National Guard Armory at 1121 S. Houk Road.
The armory is unique in that it is co-located with the city’s community center, the Delaware YMCA. The facility bridges the military-civilian divide by design. Outside the center/armory, is the city’s Veterans Memorial Plaza, dedicated to veterans of all eras.
Posts 102 and 115 are hosting the memorial with the generous principal support of Thrivent Financial – Central Ohio Group and contributions from local veterans’ and fraternal organizations.
The memorial will arrive in Delaware on Tuesday, May 29 via a special procession escorted by more than 100 motorcycles from all over central Ohio. The public is encouraged to line William Street from the Point (SR 36/37) to Houk Road from 3 to 4 p.m. to pay tribute as the memorial arrives on its specialized tractor trailer driven by R&L Carriers.
Local scouting groups will be handing out flags for the public to wave as the memorial passes by. The Delaware Fire Department’s ladder trucks will form an arch at the intersection of Sandusky and William Streets in honor of the memorial’s
Delaware Gold Star fathers Bob Hoffman and Jerry Myers will also be taking part in the procession. Motorcyclists are encouraged to meet in the A.D. Farrow NorthStar parking lot on 36/37 near Tanger Outlets (Exit 131 on I-71) at 2 p.m., to help escort the memorial through the city. A special cookout will be held at Posts 102/115 for all the riders following the procession.
Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Chip Tansill and Delaware Mayor Carolyn Riggle will be among the speakers at the opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m. that evening which will also include remarks from the Ohio National Guard, Thrivent Financial and other local officials.
The Eyes of Freedom will be on display right after the opening ceremony until 8:30 p.m. It will then be open to the public Wednesday-Friday (May 30- June 1) from Noon - 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 2 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; and Sunday, June 3 from Noon - 3 p.m.
Saturday has been designated Delaware Community Day and will start with a pancake breakfast from 8 - 10:30 a.m., hosted by Katie’s (Flying) Pancakes, who is known for flipping pancakes across a distance to its patrons. The breakfast will cost $5 for adults and $1 for children.
A special visit from Rosie the Comfort Dog as well as representatives from the USO, AMVETS, American Legion, M.A.S.H. Food Pantry, Stockhands Horses for Healing and Mission Continues will be among the community and veterans organizations on hand from 9-3 p.m. that day.
A special tribute to Justin Hoffman, Shannon Smith, Zach Myers and Anthony Kinslow, who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, will be part of the exhibit all five days.
DATA Bus will be giving free rides for all veterans throughout the event. This is good for all routes countywide so that as many veterans as possible can go to see the memorial while its in town.
The traveling memorial depicts the fallen Marines and Navy Corpsman of Columbus-based Lima Company 3/25, one of the most heavily engaged units of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“It is so important that this mission keeps traveling. It keeps our boys’ legacy alive and helps veterans everywhere,” said Keith Wightman, Gold Star father.
The Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial was created as a result of an Ohio artist’s vision, in which she saw the finished memorial and felt she was being asked to create it. With the help of the families of the fallen and the returned Marines of L3/25, the work was created and unveiled in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda in 2008, as the vision foretold.
The memorial honors the service and sacrifice of all who answer our nation’s call. Behind each portrait one feels the spirit of the thousands of men and women who have served our country, in every branch of the armed forces, not forgetting the returning veterans now suffering from post-traumatic stress. A new addition to the Memorial is the Silent Battle, a life-size, bronze sculpture of a serviceman seated with his head down.
He represents our nation’s veterans who struggle with suicide and post-traumatic stress, as they navigate life after combat. This powerful offering brings awareness, hope and a dose of healing to all who encounter him. This traveling tribute is accompanied by Mike Strahle, a purple heart combat vet who fought alongside these men and was badly injured in one of the attacks. For more on the traveling memorial, visit www.EyesofFreedom.org.