Each year for the past nine years, the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial has held a solemn ceremony in honor of Ohio military men and women who have died in the line of duty fighting the War on Terror since it began on Sept. 11, 2001.
In attendance each year are members Gold Star families, those who have lost a son, daughter, parent, spouse or grandchild while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial board president and Gold Star father Jim Bernholtz, who lost his son, Lance Corporal Eric J. Bernholtz, on Aug. 3, 2005, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, provided opening remarks during last Saturday’s 10th Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial anniversary ceremony.
VFW Post 8736 commander and Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial founder Jerry Jodrey said this year is also the 10th anniversary of the devastating hit in Haditha, Iraq, that took the lives of 14 U.S. Marines in one day, nine of them from Columbus-based Lima Company, part of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment.
Lima Company veteran Mike Logue spoke. Logue said of 180 Marines in Lima Company, 23 were killed in action during the unit’s 2015 deployment.
“They paid a price; Lima Company was one of the hardest hit units deployed,” Logue said. “We did the best we could with what we have available, we lost 23 of our finest men. To those of us who came home, they inspire us every day. We may have lost our loved ones, but they live on inside of us every day.”
Congressman Pat Tiberi, and Rear Admiral Robin Osborn, Commandant, Ohio Naval Militia, also spoke during the ceremony.
Tiberi read a letter from President George W. Bush recognizing the memorial’s 10th anniversary.
“The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial is a special place of remembrance, honoring those women and women who lost their lives in the defense of freedom and for peace everywhere,” Bush wrote. “They never knew how much they would be missed. America prays for them. They have the eternal love of a grateful nation and all Americans.”
Quoting President Abraham Lincoln, who said a nation must honor those who gave their last full measure in defense of liberty, Tiberi said today’s service members who gave the ultimate price deserve our highest honor.
“It’s our sacred duty to always remember them,” Tiberi said. “Our leaders from the birth of our nation have reminded us of our exceptional ideals of freedom and liberty. America is uniquely good, brave, and determined to bring these ideals to the world.”
The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial was established in 2005 on East Cherry Street in Sunbury through the efforts of veterans, Gold Star families and other patriotic Ohioans who wanted to create a lasting tribute to those killed in the War on Terror.
The Ohio House of Representatives recognized the the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial as a statewide memorial to Ohio’s fallen in 2005.
Each of the Ohio service members killed in the line of duty since the War on Terror began is honored with the placement of a large marble marker bearing his or her name, rank and date of death.
The Memorial also includes a chapel, a Courtyard of Honor, and various military sculptures and flags.
For more information, visit the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial website at ohiofallenheroes.org.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093