Remembering Fallen Heroes
The Ohio Flags of Honor visits towns and cities throughout the State of Ohio to honor the men and women who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The second week in August, the Ohio Flags of Honor, made their fourth stop in Parma Heights and spent the entire weekend displaying the flags in our Greenbrier Commons.
The Opening Ceremony held August 12, 2016 was attended by over 30 family members of Ohio’s Fallen Heroes from throughout the state. This powerful event is an opportunity for them to heal and for our entire community to also thank them for their sacrifice.
During the ceremony, the name of each service member is “shouted out” and a bell is rung in remembrance. A total of 293 flags were posted in the ground by the family members present, veterans’ organizations, boy scouts and residents of Parma Heights. The flags remained on display in the Commons through the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 14, 2016.
Angelo Nuzzo, chairman for the OFOH organization here in Cuyahoga County said, “This is a way to keep the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price alive. The primary goal of the Ohio Flags of Honor is to remember their sacrifice and give their loved ones a special place to bond with other families who have suffered the same loss. No one really understands the pain of losing a loved one to war more than another family who has had the same unfortunate experience.”
When we first began this program here in Parma Heights, we had no idea of the emotional impact it would have on the entire community. In the beginning, members of the community came to show that they cared but now they plan around this event because they don’t want to miss it. Parma Heights will continue to host this event because we want every family that lost a loved one to know we support them and more importantly, that their Fallen Hero will never be forgotten here in our city.
The President of the Ohio Flags of Honor, Gino and Lisa Zimmer founded this program in May of 2004 as a way to honor their son Specialist Nicholaus E. Zimmer, U.S. Army, who was killed in Kufa, Iraq. Through this tragic loss and with the gratitude they felt for the overwhelming support from veterans, their families, the community, and a long list of organizations. The Zimmer family created a foundation for the memory of all lives lost from Ohio that were in the Iraq and Afghanistan War and created the traveling memorial as a way for all Ohioans to honor these men and women, not just on Memorial Day.
In 2014, the truck that was used to haul the trailer and display throughout Ohio, began having mechanical issues. With well over 100,000 miles logged, the truck broke down three or four times costing the organization approximately ten thousand dollars in repairs. When the truck was on its way to a Veterans Day Parade and a tire blew, the entire operation was put on hold.
That’s when I joined with Angelo Nuzzo and a group of other supporters to begin an effort and campaign to pursue the purchase of a new truck. A website called “keeptheflagsofhonorrlling.org” was created, phone calls were made, fundraising letters were sent and a GoFundMe account was set up. I am proud to report that over $30,000 was raised and that, as a result, Gino was able to purchase a newer truck that not only brought the Ohio Flags of Honor back to Parma Heights this year but that will also keep the Flags of Honor rolling throughout Ohio.
The organization still accepts contributions to maintain the display. Anyone interested in supporting this worthwhile endeavor can contribute online at http://keeptheflagsofhonorrolling.org/.