By John Edwards
Memorial Park is located on Howell Avenue between Tennyson and Ivanhoe Avenues, one block south of Lake Road and west of Lake Breeze. Until this summer the park contained a monument to World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans from Sheffield Lake, a flagpole and a split rail fence. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Louis Paul Proy Chapter 20 has been meeting with City Council and the city’s independent Park Board regularly this, and has “adopted” Veterans’ Memorial Park with the intention of making the neglected little park a fitting memorial to military veterans from Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Village.
“Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Village lost a dozen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Vietnam including Sheffield Lake native Richard Van DeGeer of the a U.S. Air Force,” said Marine Corps veteran Joe Gee, a member of DAV Chapter 20 and VFW Post 8686 in Sheffield Lake. “His name was the last to be engraved on the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington D.C. after his remains were finally recovered from a helicopter that crashed in the South China Sea. We want to make this park a fitting memorial to all the service men and women from Sheffield and Sheffield Lake who served in all our wars.”
The park’s makeover has truly been a community effort: Girl Scouts from the French Creek Service Group braved the wind and rain on Oct. 5 and students from the Scorpion School of Martial Arts enjoyed much more clement weather Oct. 6 while planting flowers donated by Lowes and Pinehaven. John Kirsop planted an oak tree donated to the Girl Scouts by the Rock Pile. Kurtz Brothers donated mulch, soil and grass seed. UAW Local 2000 members worked on the landscaping and erected a new white picket fence around the memorial area, donated by Ford Motor Co. Community Service.
“The French Creek Girl Scouts are honored to dedicate an oak tree to Memorial Park,” Service Group director Sandra Willis said. “Many of our girls come from military families so this project is special to us all.”
Motorcycle enthusiasts raised money for a 60” tall statue of a contemporary infantryman at their “poker run” at Community Days last July. Mayor Dennis Bring of Sheffield Lake and City Council Clerk Kay Fantauzzi donated a smaller statue of a Civil War infantryman to represent the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who trained in Sheffield Lake and are one of the units depicted on Cleveland’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument. BHS art students in Kelson Barber’s class are painting the statue and small rock monuments to each branch of the armed services. City resident Dennis Laska of EZ Pole donated two new flagpoles.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur will speak at Sunday’s dedication, and donate a U.S. flag that was flown above the Capitol Building. State Rep. Dan Ramos and Mayor Bring are expected to speak Sunday. The 1 pm dedication will start with music from the Brookside Cardinal Marching Band. Soldiers of History, in uniforms from all of the nation’s wars will perform their program, and the Legion Riders from Amherst will arrive on motorcycles flying “Old Glory.” Sheffield Lake Law Director David Graves will sing. By the time the ceremonies end, at about 3 pm, anyone in attendance will have been able to say, “Thank you for your service” to the many veterans present.