A concept that began in 2007 with a donated Humvee, became a reality on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11 when Batavia Township trustees invited the public to attend the official dedication of the Veterans Memorial Plaza located at the Batavia Township Community Center.
A Humvee, which was damaged while in service in Iraq, was donated to the township. After being refurbished and restored by BAE Systems in Fairfield, it now serves as the centerpiece of the memorial which represents military conflicts in the Middle East.
According to township administrator Rex Parsons, the Humvee represents the most popular mode of transportation for those serving in the military since 1977.
In 2007, a committee was formed to plan a memorial for the township with an original goal of a dedication the following year.
"The initial concept for this memorial came from Linda Fraley," said Johnson. "We just want to thank the Batavia Township officials for making this happen."
The initial plans for the memorial had to be revamped when donations for the project lagged due to a downturn in the economy. In the spring of 2009, committee members relinquished ownership of the Humvee to Batavia Township trustees along with the donations which had been collected for the memorial. Rex Parsons, township administrator and memorial committee member, presented conceptual plans which incorporated many of the initial plans and cost estimates to the trustees for their approval.
"We want to thank Rex Parsons for his work on this memorial. He collated and put all the ideas together to make it happen," said trustee Jim Sauls. "We are here today to dedicate this memorial to the people of Clermont County and to thank area businesses and people for their tremendous contributions which helped to make this happen."
"We started this project nine months ago," said trustee Archie Wilson. "We hope that this memorial will stand as a reminder to Clermont Countians to never forget our veterans, the families of fallen soldiers and those who have given their all. We thank all veterans and salute you today."
The backdrop for the memorial includes flags representing each branch of the military and a POW/MIA flag as well. During the ceremony, representatives of each branch were on hand to raise the flags. Those who participated were MK2 Jeff Terry, U.S. Coast Guard; Cs2 Antonio Thomas, U.S. Navy; Sgt. Michael Wellborn, U.S. Army; A1C Charles Scholle, U.S. Air Force and MSgt. Rick St. John, U.S. Marine Corps. Denise Kelley, zoning administrator for Batavia Township raised the POW/MIA flag in honor of her father, the late Charles Kelley, who was a POW during World War II.
Dan Bare, Vietnam veteran and executive director of the Clermont County Veterans Service Commission, served as emcee for the event.
"This is a day we set aside to honor veterans who have served in both war and peace time," said Bare. "Today we also want to honor the tragic loss at Fort Hood on Nov. 5."
Bare asked those in attendance to notice the banner on display which had the names and photos of those military personnel from Clermont County who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
"Tell a soldier you are thankful for what they have done in service to our country," said trustee Lee Cornett. "We can all thank our veterans for the freedoms we enjoy today."
Music for the event was performed by Todd Fitzwater, who sang the Star Spangled Banner and Proud to be an American. Vintage aircraft from the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia Township did a fly over in World War II and Korean War era vintage planes at the conclusion of the ceremony. Those who flew the planes were Todd Winemiller, Jonathan Hartwick, Paul Redlich, and Jim Stit.
Batavia Township trustees ask the public to remember veterans each time they visit the Veterans Memorial Plaza.