As Ohioans continue to fall in the War on Terror, their names are added to the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial.

“In Sunbury there is beautiful memorial,” Jim Bernholtz, president of the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial, told Delaware County commissioners Thursday.

Bernholtz approached commissioners Thursday looking for support from the board in establishing a trust fund to continue the maintenance of the memorial.

“The memorial has brought a lot of traffic to central Ohio and Delaware County,” Bernholtz told commissioners.

It was established in 2005 and dedicated to Ohio soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty in the War on Terror.

“It’s a private memorial,” said Bernholtz. “We want to keep it that way.”

Bernholtz told commissioners the memorial’s board of directors are establishing a trust fund of $500,000 or more to maintain the memorial. He said the goal is to have enough in the trust to just use the interest for its continued maintenance.

“The marble crosses do break,” Bernholtz said. “The fund will be strictly for the maintenance of the memorial.”

Bernholtz said the memorial has always been funded through private donations and never with tax dollars. The board of directors have held fund-raising events and solicited funds from private individuals and companies.

“We have worked very hard to raise the funds for the memorial,” he said.

The legacy of the memorial is important to Bernholtz because his son was one of the fallen soldiers.

Bernholtz said his son, Eric, joined the Marines in 2003 with the “belief that terrorism should be stopped.”

“Eric deployed February 2005,” Bernholtz said. “He was killed in August of 2005. His company was just one month shy of coming home.”

On the closest Saturday to the anniversary of 9/11, the memorial holds a gathering to remember the Ohio fallen soldiers. At one of the gatherings, Bernholtz met a Marine officer who had deployed with his son. “He walked over and said, ‘I knew your son,’” Bernholtz said. “To this day, I still hear stories about Eric.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.