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Where to Honor Veterans in Columbus

For this week’s episode of Columbus Neighborhoods, we ventured to Washington, D.C., with veterans who were visiting the World War II Memorial for the first time. Though most Columbusites won’t be heading to the East Coast for Veterans Day, Central Ohio has its share of memorials and monuments worth visiting this Friday, Nov. 11. Below are some destinations where you can honor veterans in Columbus, while also learning about our region’s history.

The Ohio Statehouse, Downtown
ohio_statehouse_cannonBegin your day of reflection at the epicenter of Ohio’s capital city. Before entering the Greek Revival statehouse building, you’ll want to tour the surrounding statues and monuments.

If you’ve ever heard an earth-shaking boom coming from the statehouse, it’s likely from one of the four cannons on each corner of Capitol Square. The fully functioning bronze cannons were built in Cincinnati during the Civil War and are now used for special events.

On the north side of the square, Peace, a winged female statue holding an olive branch, stands in honor of Civil War soldiers and the women they left behind. The Women’s Relief Corps and the Grand Army of the Republic commissioned the statue, which was unveiled in 1923, from Ohio State University faculty member Bruce Wilder Saville.

Two statues of armed men stand guard at the west entrance of the statehouse. The Spirit of ’98 by Frank L. Jirouch depicts a late 19th-century soldier in remembrance of the veterans of the Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection and the China Relief Expedition. Named the Ohio World War Memorial, Arthur Ivone’s statue of a World War I doughboy was erected in 1930.

In 1941, the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War celebrated the group’s 75th reunion with the dedication of a sundial memorial on the southeast statehouse grounds. Inscribed on the sundial is, “Lest We Forget. Dedicated in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic.” The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a smaller sundial on the north side of the statehouse in 1932, in commemoration of George Washington.

ohio_statehouse_war_memorialThe largest memorial on the statehouse grounds has an unusual origin story. One night in 1981, two Vietnam veterans snuck into the grounds to install a hand-painted plywood tribute to their fellow veterans.

They would’ve been charged with trespassing and destruction of state property, had then-State Senator Richard Pfeiffer not stepped in. Also a Vietnam vet, Pfeiffer persuaded officials to keep the tribute temporarily and pushed for a permanent monument.

Now, the Ohio Veterans Plaza stands on the east side of the square, inscribed with the words from letters sent from the battlefield. Though it began as a tribute to Vietnam veterans, the plaza honors all Ohioans who have served since World War II.

The statehouse’s newest memorial, the Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial, was unveiled at the south side of the square in June 2014. The striking structure—made from 4 tons of steel, 3.5 tons of bronze, 11 tons of limestone and 13.7 tons of granite—depicts a shattered Star of David, in solemn remembrance of Holocaust victims and the veterans who liberated survivors.

After making a lap around the square, head inside the statehouse building to see the “Honoring Ohioans” exhibition, which chronicles the stories of Medal of Honor recipients from the Buckeye State.

Green Lawn Cemetery, South Side
Among the nearly 15,000 graves at Green Lawn Cemetery are six sections for veterans, each dedicated to a war. In addition to five former Ohio governors, the cemetery is also the resting place of five Medal of Honor recipients, including World War II flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Find the Soldiers and Sailors monument—erected in 1890 and dedicated to those who served in the Civil War—in the rear of the cemetery, on the west side.

Old Franklinton Cemetery, Franklinton
Though not as grand as Green Lawn, the Old Franklinton Cemetery, which predates the City of Columbus, is also a site of great historical significance. Along with the town’s first minister, Rev. Seth Noble, veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War are buried among the about 100 graves here.

Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial, Sunbury
ohio_fallen_heroes_memorialDedicated in 2007, the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial honors Ohio military members who have died during the War on Terrorism. Be sure to visit the courtyard, made from bricks that are each dedicated to a veteran.

Coming Soon(ish): National Veterans Memorial & Museum, Downtown

Following the demolition of Franklin County Veterans Memorial last year, construction at the site is now in full swing. The National Veterans Memorial & Museum is projected to open in a new glass-walled building in spring or summer 2018. The museum aims to educate and connect visitors to veterans through exhibitions that tell service members’ stories.

Emily Thompson

Next Time on Columbus Neighborhoods

Explore the history, stories and people that make Columbus and central Ohio a unique place to live on Columbus Neighborhoods, Thursdays at 8:30pm only on WOSU TV.