The memorial honors the men and women of the military who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and during the global war on terror. It will be in Bellevue from July 27 through 29. Residents may view the flags 24 hours a day at Central Park, 215 North St., Bellevue, which is the site of the former junior high school, through the closing ceremony at 2 p.m. July 29.
“This will be the second time they are in Bellevue. They were here in Bellevue in 2015,” said Robert Ward, the Huron County veterans service officer. “This was in Norwalk as well in 2016.”
The Ohio Flags of Honor includes more than 800 flags, with 299 of them representing military members from Ohio. The 3-feet by 5-feet flags will be on 10-foot poles. The weekend is sponsored by Firelands Federal Credit Union and Fallen Soldiers Memorial.
“I think the key focus is on the names on the 299 flags,” said Bellevue resident Kenn Rospert, a board member and U.S. Army Guard veteran. “That makes it very personal.”
The opening ceremony will start at 7 p.m. July 27 at Central Park in Bellevue. Country singer Ricky Lee will perform patriotic selections from 6:30 to 7.
David Claus, a prosecutor in Bellevue, and Dennis Sabo, of The Bellevue Hospital whose father was a Vietnam veteran, will read the names of the fallen soldiers. The bell ringers will be members of the Northern Ohio FOOLS (Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society).
Rospert said invitations have been sent to families representing the 299 Ohio military members and he expects the flag placement will be done by a mix of relatives and volunteers.
“My goal is to have 299 people there to place the flags,” added Rospert, who wants to see young people at the ceremony with their families for an educational experience.
Bellevue Mayor Kevin Strecker, Ben Mira, of the Army, and Gino Zimmer, who started the Ohio Flags of Honor, will offer remarks during the opening ceremony. It also will include a riderless horse tribute and rifle salute.
“The riderless horse just shows that that soldier is no longer there,” Rospert said.
Ward said the Ohio Flags of Honor is an opportunity to help the community learn about the sacrifices of the military and a way for the residents to have a partnership with area veterans.
“This has grown as the the number of fallen have grown,” he added.
Based out of Galion, the Ohio Flags of Honor is a non-partisan, non-political 501 (c)(3) corporation registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. It began in May 2004 when Gino and Lisa Gimmer, of Galion, were notified on Memorial Day that their son, Army specialist Nicholaus E. Zimmer, had been killed in Kufa, Iraq.
Before the July 27 opening ceremony, about 500 support flags will be set up in the park. Ward said they represent a military-support group of people who have made financial donations.
Lee will perform a free patriotic community concert from 7 to 9 p.m. July 28.
“He does a lot of concerts for veterans — a lot of patriotic concerts,” Rospert said.
For more information about the Ohio Flags of Honor, go to ohioflagsofhonor.org.