The GFWC/Ohio Woman's Club of Steubenville is sponsoring a bus at no charge to individuals interested in being a part of the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage on Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. in Loudonville at the Memorial Shrine.
A bus will be leaving Eastern Gateway Community College at 9:30 a.m. that day to transport anyone wishing to attend. It will stop in Millersburg for lunch. The cost is $14.75, which includes tax and gratuity. Anyone wanting to reserve a seat on the bus can call Kathy Mills, club president, at (740) 282-2382. The bus will return around 6 p.m.
Seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served, basis.
Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 will be providing a special ceremony that day with. American Legion Post 257 providing the color guard.
The ceremony will include the dedication of a memorial bench in honor of the late Shirley Mitchell, who was a longtime member and officerholder in the Woman's Club of Steubenville and had served as had served as chairman of the shrine's trustees board
The guest speaker will be U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, who entered the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and retired as a lieutenant colonel after a distinguished military career of more than 26 years.
The Ohio Memorial Forest Shrine, a project of the GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs, was dedicated on April 27, 1947, as a memorial to Ohio's war dead. In cooperation with the Forestry Division of the state of Ohio, selection was made in one of the most scenic spots adjacent to Mohican-Memorial State Forest, located on state Route 97, three miles south of Loudonville.
Although the Memorial Forest belongs to the state, the GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs was empowered to improve the lands by planting trees and building a memorial shrine. It was constructed as a memorial to men and women who lost their lives in World War II and stands today to honor individuals who made the supreme sacrifice not only in WWII, but also in the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict and MIAs of Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Inside the shrine are two Great Books in which the names of these individuals are inscribed. Until 2011, the books were on permanent display inside a locked, 8-foot, glass-topped oak cabinet below the Great Seal of Ohio.
Through a $10,600 grant from the NiSource Charitable Foundation, the Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs were able to purchase museum-quality preservation display cases which will prevent the two Great Books from further deterioration. They are removed only on the day of the Gold Star Mothers' Pilgrimage, which is the last Sunday in September.
Eight small binders containing typewritten names from the Great Books are on display on the stone table inside the shrine for public viewing at other times.
More than 60,000 Women's Club members from all over Ohio worked two years to raise the construction funds for the shrine. Legislation required that all materials and companies involved in the construction be native to Ohio. The architect was the late C.C. Britsch, Toledo, and the contractor was the late Wilson Miller of Wooster.