Pitman: Butler County's newest veterans memorial offers touchstone moments

May 21—If you need a source of inspiration, head over to Fairfield Twp. either on or sometime after Memorial Day.

It took nearly a decade to plan, develop, and fundraise, but the Fairfield Twp. Veterans Memorial at Heroes Park will have a significant portion of the military tribute by Memorial Day.

The township's memorial will be the latest recognition of our veterans who have fought for our country, especially those who died for that mission of protecting and defending the Stars and Stripes.

By Memorial Day, Phases 1 and 2 and much of Phase 3 will have been completed, and Fred Valerius, the spokesman for the township memorial committee, said it's at a stage where it can be showcased to the community. And hopefully, he said, that would help them get the last bit of fundraising needed to complete the project.

He said this memorial adds to the "culture of appreciation for military service." And the memorial is also a touchstone for families that can connect with loved ones they lost. To reflect on their service and sacrifice. To mourn their absence.

A lot of work went into creating the memorial. The dedication program will feature the unveiling of the military branch monuments and the Purple Heart monument (which was donated by the National Order of the Purple Heart) and the initial raising of the service branch flags.

An honor guard that will be a combination of the Fairfield VFW Post No. 1069 and Liberty/West Chester American Legion Post No. 681 will also be part of the dedication.

Eventually, there will be plaques on the walls that name local veterans and donors.

Veteran memorials are in nearly every corner of Butler County, from Middletown and Oxford in northern Butler County to Fairfield and West Chester Twp., and other communities in between. These hallowed grounds are places of honor and solemnity are physical locations for veterans, friends and families of veterans, and those who don't have a military connection other than through their honor and respect for the sacrifices made.

Memorials also can serve as a source of inspiration for future generations, so they can learn from the past and pave a better future for the country. Class trips will be made, just like they are to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Maybe not to the same scale, but still, it will be an important monument. Just like similar ones in other communities.

There will also be a lot of names on the walls of the memorial. Some will be known because they're family. Others will be familiar because they're well-known Butler County surnames. And more may be recognized because their sacrifices were in the news. But Valerius hopes every single name will receive the same touchstone moments as the Vietnam Memorial, where friends and family members and the occasional random stranger will etch a name using a pencil and a blank piece of paper.

The memorial's dedication, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 3 at Heroes Park, 6116 Morris Road, and WCPO Evening Anchor Craig McKee, a nine-year Air Force veteran, will serve as the dedication's master of ceremonies.

Gold Star parent Adolfo Olivas, whose son, Army Cpl. Nicholas Olivas, was killed in action on May 30, 2012, in Zharay, Afghanistan, will make the primary presentation. Nicholas Olivas will be honored with others who were killed in action and had lived in Fairfield Twp. or whose families now reside in the township. Gold Star families will also be recognized.

Other highlights of the ceremony include a skydiving demonstration by Middletown's Team Fastrax with a large American flag, and music by Senior Master Sgt. Christin Foley, the superintendent of the Air Force Band of Flight based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

A mini-parade is being planned to begin near Bridgewater Falls Shopping Center ahead of the ceremony and travel through the Lakewood subdivision, ending at Fairfield North Elementary School next to Heroes Park.

When you go, either on Memorial Day, the dedication day on June 3, or some random weekday or weekend, don't forget your pencil and paper. That person's name may be the inspiration you need one day.

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HOW TO SUPPORT

There's still about $60,000 to complete Phase 3 of the Fairfield Twp. Veterans Memorial project. Donations can be made to the memorial fund through the Fairfield Community Foundation at tinyurl.com/FairfieldTwpVetsMemorial or checks can be mailed to the foundation at 5350 Pleasant Ave., Fairfield, Ohio 45014.