In 2000, Rebecca Jackson, then Jefferson County Judge/Executive, appointed a committee of local retired and former military personnel, as well as family members of local United States military personnel, to visualize, conceive, fund and erect a suitable memorial honoring fallen patriots. With the generous financial support of David and Betty Jones, as well as numerous local foundations, corporations, veterans’ organizations, families, friends and patriotic citizens, the dream became a reality on Veterans Day, November 11, 2002.
Ever mindful that military readiness is a dangerous endeavor, as of Monday, May 30, 2016, we have enshrined 450 patriots in this memorial. As a name is added, a brick is removed and replaced with a personalized etched glass identifying each patriot, signifying our loss. This void in an otherwise solid wall becomes a portal of light transforming the interior by day and radiating outward at night through each name as a reminder to celebrate daily the joy of freedom purchased and safeguarded by these brave men and women.
Despite its unique design incorporating an etched relief of an American flag on its north wall, the memorial lacked an actual American flag flying in silent tribute to those enshrined therein. The Patriots Peace Memorial Committee chose to approach the families and friends of those enshrined for individual donations, no matter how large or small, in an effort to give them an opportunity to honor their own sons and daughters in a very meaningful and visible manner. The response was most gratifying. On Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, as we gathered to recognize those who have made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of this nation, we together solemnly raised an American flag in an enduring tribute to those we honor.
It is our hope, that as our fellow citizens pass this beautiful site, they will see Old Glory flying proudly in the Ohio River breeze and reflect on the sacrifice made by these brave patriots. May this universally recognized symbol of freedom and courage add dignity and respect to this truly unique memorial and may we all feel a sense of genuine national pride for those whose memories we honor.
Photos by Ed Armento