The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial in Sunbury, Ohio pays tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in our war on terrorism, and it’s an incredibly moving place to visit…
During our travels across America, we’ve come across countless small-town war memorials, but we were completely unprepared for the moving experience we had in the town of Sunbury, Ohio at the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial. A memorial to the Ohioans who’ve fallen in the war on terrorism, the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial is a touching place rivaled by few we’ve toured in the state.
(More photos in the gallery at the end of the article.)
The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial started simply enough… A local Sunbury citizen simply started putting up crosses to honor those from Ohio who died after 9/11 during the war on terrorism. As the number of crosses grew, so did support from Sunbury veterans to create something more permanent to honor those lost.
Eventually, land was secured and volunteers raised money and put in countless hours of work over the course of two years until the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial was officially dedicated on June 30, 2007.
When we arrived, we were immediately struck by what we saw… Row after row of markers with the names of those who gave what President Lincoln called the “last great measure of devotion,” to their country.
As we were taking in the scene, we were greeted by our tour guides: Deb and Dennis Nealon, a Gold Star family, Dan Shaw, an Army medic veteran, and Richard Doritty, an Air Force veteran.
For Deb Nealon, the space has special significance as her own son, LCpl. Jacob D Spann, is one of the heroes honored at the memorial.
The group was kind enough to take us into the small stone chapel at the memorial. Inside, we gazed upon numerous artifacts left by loved ones, friends, and fellow service members for the fallen heroes. Items ranging from Bibles to chewing tobacco tins adorn a small desk table, just a fraction of the items left here since the memorial was dedicated in 2007.
Back outside, a few special markers flank the individual markers such as one for purple heart recipients, but it’s the gun and boot sculpture and its backdrop that we found truly moving. As my guides pointed out and as you’ll see in the photos, the slabs of granite feature what appear to be angel’s wings.
This was not part of the original design… The wings just appeared and never went away.
Between the chapel and markers is a brick courtyard with engraved bricks purchased to honor any veteran of the armed forces. We’re told there’s even a brick for a war horse.
Of course, the main part of the memorial is the individual markers honoring every fallen hero from Ohio since 9/11.
As you walk the lawn and gaze at the nearly 300 markers, the gravity of what each of these men and women did starts to sink in. You notice little trinkets left by loved ones. These heroes become real- not just a report on the nightly news or an article in a newspaper.
As we stood by Jacob Spann’s cross while his mother, Deb, told us stories of her son, you couldn’t help but feel waves of different emotions.
Deb told us of just why a place like this was so important to not only her, but to all the loved ones of the names on these markers.
For many, she told us, it was a place they could visit regularly to remember their son, daughter, friend, or spouse. With some of those lost having final resting places outside Ohio, the Fallen Heroes Memorial gives many a way to honor these heroes without having to travel outside the state. Sunbury’s central Ohio location proved it to be an ideal location for the memorial.
If you have a loved one from Ohio that lost their life in the war on terror or if you just happen to be passing through central Ohio, a stop in Sunbury and the Fallen Heroes Memorial is a must.
If you can’t make it, please spend a few moments reading the names and hometowns of those honored here on their website.
The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial
79 1/2 W Cherry St., Sunbury, OH 43074
The Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial is proudly funded by donations and without major corporate sponsorships or large tax levies. You won’t find any “sponsored by” banners flying here. No, just simple bricks honoring other veterans. For this reason, we encourage you to consider donating to the project. Information can be found on their website.