Gold Star wife speaks at OFHM Ceremony
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Last Saturday, September 8, three days before the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Shanksville, Pennsylvania, approximately 250 Gold Star Family members joined with members of the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial and local dignitaries for the 2012 Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial Ceremony.
Retired GySgt Shawn Delgado, a Lima Company Marine who also serves as President of the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial Board of Trustees, made the ceremony’s welcoming remarks and introductions.
Key speakers were Gold Star wife Tricia English, Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial founder Jerry Jodrey and Congressman Pat Tiberi.
Delgado reminded everyone they were in attendance to remember their loved ones, and to pay tribute to, and never forget, our nation’s heroes; that each marker on the memorial field represents men and women who believed so much in the American way of life they were willing to step forward and fight for freedom.
“This is a hard time for Gold Star family members,” Delgado said. “The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial truly believes that worse then death is to be forgotten — to forget what they did. This is our own way to give back to those who will never come home.
“The hardest part is to live up to the promise they had for their future,” Delgado continued. “They would have made great parents, great grandparents and great leaders for their communities. We have to live our lives to make sure people never forget the promise these men and women will never have the chance to live up to.”
Delgado added that the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial is special because it was built with donations — no tax dollars or state money was used to build or maintain the site.
Congressman Tiberi also noted the all-volunteer effort to build and maintain the memorial. He said he remembers that first cold and soggy day, February 18, 2006, when Kathleen Kinslow, mother of Big Walnut graduate Anthony Kinslow who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, turned over the first ceremonial shovel of soil at the site.
“If it weren’t for the leadership of so many, this memorial could not be here,” Tiberi said. “And not a dime of public money was used; it was all volunteers who started this and kept it going.”
Tiberi also read a letter from former President George W. Bush noting that in every generation Americans are called to serve, fighting for American ideals across the globe.
Tiberi went on to quote President Ronald Reagan, who said: Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
“These men and women memorialized here today have demonstrated the greatest love of all; they’ve given their lives for their fellow man,” Tiberi said. “To the Gold Star parents and other family members, on behalf of the residents of the 12th District of the State of Ohio, I’m honored to be here to give tribute to your sons and daughters, and promise that we will never forget those who gave it all and paid the ultimate price.”
Gold Star wife Tricia English is the mother of three sons and the widow of United States Army Capt. Shawn English.
“We were called to be members of a club none of us ever wanted to be part of; it will never go away,” English said. “But in time good memories take over. I’m fortunate today that I can look at my three boys and see their dad.”
English noted that this September is the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that claimed 3,497 American lives on their own soil.
“Like me, I’m sure every person here can remember where he or she was on 9/11,” English said. “I was a military wife in Virginia preparing to leave for church that morning. My husband was an Army diver, and I knew what this would mean to our family and we began to prepare for deployment.”
In March of 2002 America went to war, English said; and for the last 10 years less than 1 percent of Americans have been protecting our way of life to keep our soil free.
“On December 3, 2006, in an instant I went from being a military wife to a military widow, from being a co-parent to a single parent; and what I’ve come to realize is the intention of those terrorists 11 years ago has failed,” English said. “America came together. People of every race, creed and color coming together defines what it means to be an American.”
For more information about the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial go to < ohiofallenheroes.org >.