“Eyes of Freedom,” the Lima Company traveling military memorial, will be coming to Delaware May 29 through June 3. The memorial, which will be stationed at the Ohio Army National Guard Readiness Center, 1120 S. Houk Road, will be hosted by AMVETS Post 102 and American Legion Post 115.
The memorial will arrive in Delaware on Tuesday, May 29, accompanied by a procession that will feature over 100 motorcycles, including the AMVETS Post 51 riders, American Legion Post 239 riders, as well as riders from other motorcycle clubs and individual riders from all over central Ohio.
Lima Company, part of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, has suffered extensive casualties in the Middle East conflicts.
“Eyes of Freedom” was created by Anita Miller, a Columbus native at the time, after hearing of the 2005 IED explosion in Iraq that killed 14 Marines, nine of which were from Lima Company. The memorial was completed in May 2008.
“It is so important that this mission keeps traveling,” said Keith Wightman, a Gold Star father, in an “Eyes of Freedom” press release. “It keeps our boys’ legacy alive and helps veterans everywhere.”
The public is encouraged to line William Street from The Point all the way to Houk Road from 3 to 4 p.m. on May 29 to pay tribute as the memorial arrives in Delaware. Ladder trucks from the Delaware Fire Department will form an arch at intersection on Sandusky and William streets.
Motorcyclists who want to participate in the escort are encouraged to meet in the A.D. Farrow NorthStar parking lot, near the Tanger Outlets, at 2 p.m. Afterwards, there will be special cookout held at Posts 102/115 for all riders.
Gold Star fathers Bob Hoffman and Jerry Myers will take part in the procession. Delaware natives Justin Hoffman, Zach Myers, Shannon Smith and Anthony Kinslow — all fallen in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations — will have a special tribute in the exhibit all five days.
“The memorial honors the service and sacrifice of all who answer our nation’s call,” the press release states. “Behind each portrait, one feels the spirit of the thousands of men and women who have served our country, in every branch of the armed forces, not forgetting the returning veterans now suffering from post-traumatic stress.”
Mike Strahle, a wounded veteran of Lima Company, will accompany the memorial, as he has throughout its travels around the country. Earlier this year, the memorial made stops in California, Idaho and Wyoming.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m on May 29, and Mayor Riggle will speak, as will the Ohio National Guard, Thrivent Financial and other local officials. The memorial will be on display following the ceremony until 8:30 p.m. It will then be open to the public from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday (May 30 to June 1), 8 a.m to 6 p.m. on Saturday (June 2), and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday (June 3).
There will be an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast hosted by Katie’s Pancakes on Saturday, which has been designated Delaware Community Day, and it will run from 8 to 10:30 a.m. in conjunction with the memorial. The breakfast will cost $5 for adults and $1 for children.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.