HAMILTON, Ohio — The Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton is likely the most recognizable veterans memorial in the region, a building worthy of a spot in Washington, D.C., said the city’s mayor.
Not only does it recognize those who have served in the United States military, it’s also an educational building that’s “part of our heritage,” said Mayor Pat Moeller.
The Butler County memorial at One South Monument Avenue that sits on the High Street side of the High-Main Bridge in downtown Hamilton is typically open during the heritage holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day. It is now open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, but will be the site for the 2020 Memorial Day event — which is historically held at Greenwood Cemetery following a parade. It will be a closed-to-the-public ceremony at the memorial that will be live-streamed through TV Hamilton’s Facebook page and later aired on TV Hamilton.
“The building itself is just so much a part of our city,” said Moeller of the county monument that’s part of the city’s logo. “It causes a citizen, hopefully, to think about those who serve, and think about how important those who put on a military uniform are, and how they help us with protecting our rights and our freedoms.”
Several memorials have been built over the decades around the region to honor those who died in service to the country, and currently serve. They’re peppered around Southwest Ohio, including at dedicated parks, retail centers and area cemeteries, such as Woodside Cemetery’s Veterans Memorial in the city of Middletown.
Middletown Division of Police Chief David Birk said memorials not only honor those who died in defense of the United States but also those who fought in the founding of the country.
“If it wasn’t for them defending the Constitution and defending our divine rights, a lot of us wouldn’t be where we’re at right now,” he said. “I think it’s crucial that we honor those who fought for our freedom and continue to fight for our freedom.”
Every community recognizes Memorial Day differently, which Birk said is “important to represent and honor those that have come before and have fought for our freedom.”
Other veteran memorials in the region include, but aren’t limited to, Hanover Twp.'s veterans memorial at Hanover Park on Old Oxford Road, and the cities of Monroe and Fairfield's memorials, both named Veterans Memorial Park. Monroe’s park is at Ohio 63 and Main Street and Fairfield’s Veterans Park is on Wessel Drive near its municipal building.
There are also memorials at the retail center at Voice Of America Park in West Chester Twp., and in Warren County at the city of Mason’s city building on Mason-Montgomery Road and Cottell Park on Irwin-Simpson Road in Deerfield Twp.
Fairfield Twp. is planning to construct a veterans memorial at Heroes Park on Millikin Road, but the township is seeking state funding through the biennial capital budget. Gov. Mike DeWine said in March — as most of Ohio started to shut down due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — that “many, many” projects and programs “are going to have to, unfortunately, take a hit.”
But whenever the funding is in place, Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said, the veterans “deserve the recognition.”
“It’s important to remember that freedom isn’t free,” she said, “and the veterans memorial will serve as a reminder to future generations of the price that has been for their freedom.”
Hartkemeyer has a “strong military tradition” within her family. Her father was a career member of the U.S. Air Force, both of her grandfathers served in World War II, and she’s had several uncles serve in the military. Her brother is a member of the Air National Guard and her son attends the military academy University of North Georgia.
“I understand the sacrifices soldiers and families make to serve the country,” she said.
Moeller said Hartkemeyer is typical of just about every Southwest Ohio family that has at least two or three members serve. The Hamilton mayor said the region “is pretty well-known” for a high percentage of veterans in Ohio, and why he believes “every community, city, village and township should have one (a veteran’s memorial).”
The Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO 9.