Gold Star Mothers ceremony involves local clubs

LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — The GFWC Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs, including representatives of local clubs in Jefferson County, will honor Ohio men and women who have lost their lives in service to their country and their families during a ceremony with the Gold Star Mothers on Sept. 29.

It will be begin at 2 p.m. at the Memorial Forest Shrine located in the Mohican Memorial State Forest near Loudonville in Ashland County.

Featured speakers will include the Ohio Department of Veterans Service Director Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst. Also speaking will be Linda Crish, president of GFWC Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs, and Rose Logston, chairman of the trustees of the Ohio Memorial Shrine.

Rolling Thunder Chapter No. 5 will conduct a ceremony as a part of the commemoration activities. Professor John Graham, author of “Gold Star Mother’s Pilgrimages of the 1930s,” will talk about his research while writing his book.

In 1936, the president of the United States declared the last Sunday in September to be observed as Gold Star Mother’s Day. Each year members of the Gold Star Mothers gather at the Memorial Forest Shrine, the official memorial to Ohio war casualties, to conduct a ceremony and place a wreath at the entrance of the Shrine.

Members of the GFWC Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs from throughout the state raised the money to build the Shrine, which was dedicated on April 27, 1947. Inside it are two “Great” books inscribed with the names of individuals who made the supreme sacrifice not only in World War II, but also in the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Over the years, state foresters from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have planted more than 310,000 trees in the area as living memorials to the more than 20,000 Ohio war dead honored within the shrine. In 2008, the “Memorial Walkway” was unveiled. That walkway leads from the south side of the Shrine to the latrines, and the newer “Friends Walkway,” which was dedicated in 2009 is on the north side of the Shrine and will lead to the Presidents Grove.

Both walkways are constructed of Ohio-made bricks and pavers purchased through members of the GFWC Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs with donations and/or engraving of the bricks or pavers. Those wanting to honor or memorialize someone can order standard size bricks with up to three lines of letters or large pavers (about the size of four bricks) with graphics and letters other sizes are also available. You can send a design or pick from the engravers catalog. Logston serves as state chairmen of the Bricks and Pavers Committee.

The maintenance of the Shrine is a joint initiative of ODNR and GFWC Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs, and ODNR Division of Forestry also oversees the surrounding 270-acre Memorial Park and 4,525-acre state forest. The Ohio General Assembly authorized construction of the 32-foot by 24-foot sandstone chapel-like structure in 1945 as World War II was ending.

The shrine was built by and is maintained using all Ohio products. Its location, just off Route 97 and close to Route 3 was carefully selected for its easy access from all parts of the state and because of its proximity to Mohican State Forest, which was already under ODNR management.

The GFWC/Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs is an organization of more than 50 clubs with members dedicated to community service through volunteer efforts. It is a non-sectarian and non-partisan organization and has members of all ages throughout Ohio. The GFWC is the largest organization of its kind.

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