My modest contribution is the World War II memorial here in the village of Greenhills, Ohio, which is celebrating an honor of its own this year: its 75th anniversary. Greenhills is one of the three historic "greenbelt communities" that were designed and built by the United States Resettlement Administration, as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal.
Our village was dedicated in 1938, the second of the three completed greenbelt communities out of a planned twenty-five. (The others being Greenbelt, Maryland and Greendale, Wisconsin; all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.) The ambitious project was stopped in part by the outbreak of World War II. Just six years after its founding, the village erected its war memorial, an obelisk on the village commons.
Apparently there was some controversy about the memorial at the time: the powers that be decided to have the monument made of concrete, rather than the more usual granite or marble. The dedication itself must have been splendid and moving; John McCrae's iconic poem "In Flanders Field" was read by a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the V F W, and a soprano sang the 1922 standard "My Buddy," by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. And of course, it must have been even more poignant still as the seven honorees were all from original "Pioneer" families who had moved into Greenhills just a few years earlier, and would have been known to everyone in this still-neighborly village of just a few thousand residents.
WORLD WAR II
FRANK WARNER, JR.
To this day, there are third and fourth generation "Pioneers" living in Greenhills, some descended from or related to our fallen. Some of their descendants will be participating in our annual Memorial Day parade.
Greenhills' only other war-related monument is "Shadows of Freedom," a sundial-like spire at the other end of the commons that casts a shadow upon discs set into a winding path, on dates commemorating historic events such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and--appropriately--Memorial Day.
|"Shadows of Freedom"|
SHADOWS OF FREEDOM
DEDICATED JULY 2, 1988
THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY
HUGH WATSON POST 530
FOUNDED NOV. 9, 1938
Usually for this blog I contrive some theme or idea as a springboard to jump into my own family's stories, but already having written elsewhere about members of my family who fought--and died--in wars, town foundings, and even my oblique connection to the Roosevelts, I am having a difficult time coming up with another tie-in. But perhaps that is best. There should be no "me" in Memorial Day; it is a time we set aside to honor far too many others.