New veterans memorial dedicated


By Gary Budzak - [email protected]



Veterans and their families listen to remarks from Westerville Mayor Diane Conley while seated under tents at the dedication ceremony.

Veterans and their families listen to remarks from Westerville Mayor Diane Conley while seated under tents at the dedication ceremony.


Gary Budzak | The Gazette

A rainy morning didn’t deter people from attending the dedication of the Veterans Memorial in Westerville.


Gary Budzak | The Gazette

WESTERVILLE — A rainy morning didn’t keep people away from the dedication of the newly-constructed Westerville Veterans Memorial, 325 N. Cleveland Ave.

“What other community comes out in this kind of weather? There’s no place like Westerville,” said Mayor Diane Conley. “Look at all the generations that are here — there’s third graders, high schoolers, veterans our age, and World War II veterans in their 90s.”

State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) read part of a resolution in support of the memorial that she and state Rep. Shawn Stevens (R-Sunbury) introduced. “This site straddles both Delaware and Franklin counties,” Lightbody said. “It’s a unique place.”

“Westerville, you just do it right, and that hurts me because I’m from Hilliard,” said Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. “A lot of thought went into this. You’d be hard pressed to find any place more patriotic than Westerville.”

Ashenhurst said she had spent part of her 37-year military career at the former armory in Westerville. She noted that Ohio has more than 700,000 veterans, 67,000 of whom are women. And in any given year, some 10,000 people are making the transition from active duty to retired military in Ohio.

During the ceremony, the VFW Color Guard posted and retired the colors, the Westerville South High School Soundsation sang the national anthem and other patriotic fare, the American Legion Rifle Squad fired a 21-volley salute, and “Amazing Grace” was played by a solo bagpiper.

Many of the veterans and their families were seated under tents at the memorial, which is in the center of the Westerville Sports Complex. The central structure — the Gratitude Pavilion — is unusual in that it is split but joined together, representing the sacrifice of separation often endured by veterans and their families. In addition, trails in and around memorial aren’t straight, because rarely is the path of a military person linear.

All branches of the military are represented at the memorial, and there’s a quotation from President John F. Kennedy on one of the walls. Speakers noted that the memorial was done “the Westerville way” and included input from those being honored. Finally, the original veteran’s memorial, which had been at the armory, was moved to the park.

On Friday morning, there was a Veteran’s Day Breakfast at the Westerville Community Center across the street, and the veterans were shuttled over to ceremony.

The memorial isn’t the only recognition that veterans receive in the city. Twice a year, banners bearing the names and photos of Westerville-based veterans grace poles in the Uptown section. The city has also supported Honor Flights for a decade.

Larry Jenkins, of the Westerville Parks Foundation, said donations are being accepted for the memorial through the end of the year. For more information, visit www.westerville.org/vetsmemorial.

Veterans and their families listen to remarks from Westerville Mayor Diane Conley while seated under tents at the dedication ceremony.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/11/web1_DSCF9265.jpgVeterans and their families listen to remarks from Westerville Mayor Diane Conley while seated under tents at the dedication ceremony. Gary Budzak | The Gazette

A rainy morning didn’t deter people from attending the dedication of the Veterans Memorial in Westerville.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/11/web1_DSCF9273.jpgA rainy morning didn’t deter people from attending the dedication of the Veterans Memorial in Westerville. Gary Budzak | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at the above email address.