Wilhelm: July 4, monuments honor those who sacrificed

·3 min read

From Perry’s Victory Monument and International Peace Memorial at Put-In-Bay, to the Northcoast Veterans Museum at Gibsonburg, this area honors its veterans in countless ways.

As communities mark Independence Day, it’s worth noting the efforts to honor those who have sacrificed for their country.

This, of course, ranges through cemeteries, include McPherson’s in Clyde, to special monuments at the Sandusky County Courthouse and the park across the street from the courthouse.

Most of these, such as the soldiers monument at Birchard Public Library, are well known.

But one longtime and lasting honor for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to help preserve our freedoms is sometimes not so remembered.

Soldiers and McKinley Memorial Parkways honor the fallen

The Soldiers and McKinley Memorial Parkways on the south side of Fremont have been part of daily life in the community while the historic brick streets and their environment have honored the fallen for more than 100 years.

Memorial Parkway runs south from Hayes Avenue and intersects with McKinley Parkway, with the streets said to be laid out like a cross.

A little history can be found in the 1919 yearbook of the Sandusky County Pioneer and Historical Association:

Memorial Parkway was originally dedicated to Sandusky County soldiers in the wars with Spain, the Philippines and China and World War II.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial is among the area monuments honoring veterans.
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial is among the area monuments honoring veterans.

In April of 1919, the Memorial Tablet Committee passed a resolution that included the statement that the parkway “is in every way suitable for such a Soldiers’ Memorial Parkway.”

The plan was to honor “each soldier, sailor and marine” along a parkway featuring buckeye trees and inscribed tablets.

Col. Webb Hayes, interested in honoring his fellow servicemen from those wars, was among the big supporters of the effort which included a request to county commissioners to adopt the parkway as a county park.  Commissioners endorsed the parkway and agreed to do the “grading” work necessary.  And, Webb Hayes agreed to purchase  the memorial trees and proposed tablets containing information about the deceased serviceman.

As I understand it, the dedication of the parkway was held May 30, 1919, (Memorial Day) although wet weather had prevented contractors from completing some of the grading.

In 1991, the parkways were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places qualifying both because of their importance in community planning and in landscape architecture.

It’s interesting to note that many such parkways in the country are centerpieces for cities, but these two parkways are home to a residential area, which actually developed several years after the parkways were completed.

Webb Hayes promoted local parkways to honor fallen servicemen

While Webb Hayes was providing support for the parkways honoring the fallen servicemen, his wife matched his generosity with support for a proposed nurses training school building to overlook the Soldiers Memorial Parkway and for a tablet honoring women war workers of Sandusky County.

She had already conceived and then donated generously to the construction of Memorial Hospital.

So the entire area is basically a memorial for those who served.

Roy Wilhelm started a 40-year career at The News-Messenger in 1965 as a reporter. Now retired, he writes a column for both The News-Messenger and News Herald. 

This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Wilhelm: July 4, monuments honor those who sacrificed