Veterans, residents gather to dedicate downtown memorial

Kelli Fitzpatrick

Despite chilly and overcast weather, a crowd of about 50 people came to the Veteran’s Day dedication of a new memorial in downtown Kent.

The three-piece bronze sculpture was installed at the corner of Erie Street and state Route 59, positioned next to a new flagpole and surrounded by lights. Attendees viewed and took photos of the sculpture before the program began at 2 p.m.

“It’s a wonderful sight,” said Roger Linder, an Army veteran who served from 1967 to 1971. “It’s so representative of all the men and women that have served, and those who have really sacrificed that aren’t here to appreciate it.”

The dedication, coordinated by PARTA and Kent VFW, took place on a stage set up by the memorial. PARTA Planning Director Bryan Smith introduced the program with a raising of the American flag by Kent veterans.

Michael Garvey, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mantua, led the crowd in prayer, thanking and remembering veterans.

“We can never fully repay them,” Garvey said. “Through the efforts of our soldiers and diplomats, an era of peace of justice for all may commence.”

Sarah Lowry, regional representative for Sen. Sherrod Brown, took the stage. She said Ohio is one of the top 10 states with the largest population of veteran and active duty residents, meaning most people know someone to remember on Veterans Day.

“This memorial stands to act as a constant reminder as we pass by…that the everyday life we take for granted, we are able to enjoy because of our veterans,” Lowry said.

Chris Cupples, a representative for state Rep. Tim Ryan, spoke next, followed by state Rep. Kathleen Clyde. Clyde focused on thanking George Danhires, memorial artist and Marine Corps veteran.

“He should make the city of Kent very proud indeed,” Clyde said. “He is an exemplary member of the Kent community, someone who has made it his mission to honor and serve.”

The Kent Roosevelt High School band, standing at attention to the right of the stage, played the national anthem after Clyde’s speech.

Next to speak was Sen. Jon Eklund, who said veterans should be honored for their “love of country, desire of self-improvement and a recognition that there is something bigger than all of us and it’s worth defending.”

Marisol Simon, Federal Transportation Administration regional administrator, and John Drew, general manager and secretary-treasurer of PARTA, each spoke, concluding the speech portion of the dedication event.

Drew announced the sale of the bricks surrounding the statue. Brick engravings are available to purchase in honor of a veteran, and proceeds will go towards upkeep of the memorial.

Drew officiated the memorial’s dedication by remembering his veteran uncle William Sullivan and asking the veterans at the event to stand and be recognized by the crowd.

The Kent Roosevelt band played “America the Beautiful.” Finally, a 21-gun salute concluded the event.

The veterans memorial was a public arts requirement part of the $20-million TIGER grant gifted to Kent State University, the city and PARTA in 2009.

Contact Kelli Fitzpatrick at [email protected].