Portage County prepares for this year’s Veterans Day

Pamela Crimbchin

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, others will speak

Portage County citizens will join representatives from throughout Ohio this Veterans Day to remember and reflect on those who have served our county.

“If we didn’t have the military, we wouldn’t have our way of life,” said Robert Park, director of Portage County’s Veterans Service Commission. “I know there is some that won’t agree with that, but history supports my contention.”

The county commissioners are sponsoring the Portage County Veterans Day program, which will begin at 10:45 a.m. tomorrow at the Portage County Veterans Memorial Plaza in front of the Portage County Courthouse at 203 W. Main St. in Ravenna.

Each presenter represents a different perspective on war, including federal, state, veteran and current soldier. Lt. Governor Lee Fisher will speak on behalf of the state.

“We’re glad that the Lt. Governor is going to attend to honor the Portage County veterans,” said Charlene Badger, executive assistant of the county commissioners. “We are very pleased that he’s coming to this important event in our county.”

Other guest speakers include Kevin Tabor of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Staff Sgt. Raymond Mann of the Ohio National Guard, Judge Perry Dickinson, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

The Kent Roosevelt Brass Quintet will play patriotic music throughout the ceremony and the Honor Guard of VFW Post 1055 of Ravenna will present the colors.

Badger said she expects the program to be no more than one hour long because the event is outside and the weather could be cold.

“We want to have a nice, respectful, honorable ceremony, without having people outside for too long,” Badger said.

The Portage County Veterans memorial was designed to look like an eagle when viewed from above. Bricks purchased by the public and different organizations that commemorate specific veterans are laced throughout the body and wings of the eagle.

“There are a lot of people who have bought bricks in the honor of World War II veterans,” Badger said. “They are anxious for the veterans to be able to see the bricks.”

The memorial recognizes the Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Army with five monuments. A large monument recognizing three Portage County men who received Medals of Honor from Congress sits at the head of the eagle.

The county commissioners sponsored the memorial when it was built three years ago. The memorial cost $139,474 in private donations and $72,000 from U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds.

Badger said many people came to The Portage County Veterans Day program last year, and she hopes to have even more this year.

“Last year, we had 150, and we really didn’t have a statewide elected official speaking,” she said. “So I’m thinking at least 200 (people this year). As long as it doesn’t rain.”

Veterans Day events in Kent

The Kent Historical Society is holding its final “All About Kent” speaker program of the year on Veterans Day to honor World War II veterans.

“It’s a combination program of a tribute to all the veterans, especially the World War II veterans,” said John Benedik, board member and volunteer for the Kent Historical Society. “Plus some history of the war years in Kent.”

&bull The American Legion Post 496 is hosting the event at

7 p.m. tomorrow at 1945 Mogadore Road.

The event will honor all veterans, but the speakers will present stories from growing up in Kent, going to war and returning home.

“I think we should honor all our veterans because they’re willing to step forward and put their lives on the line for our county,” Benedik said.

The event will feature four speakers, who were all involved in the war in different capacities:

&bull John Wunderle taught bomber pilots in Texas

&bull Harold Snowberger served in Europe

&bull Harry Ruggles survived Omaha Beach as an infantryman

&bull Kay Burgess will present her experiences on the homefront in Kent during World War II

“(Burgess) was 22 when she was at Kent State, and she had to leave Kent State to go and work at her family bakery, The Hahn Bakery,” Benedik said. “So she lived through the war and knows what was going at Kent State at the time.”

All veterans from all wars present at the program will be recognized.

The American Legion Post 496 also will have a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the veterans’ memorial in Standing Rock Cemetery located at 1361 N. Mantua St.

Contact public affairs reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].