ZANESVILLE - One hundred and ninety-three American flags are flying at Zane's Landing Park in honor and memory of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
The flags are on display as part of the Ohio Flags of Honor that travels across the state throughout the year.
Zanesville Police Officer Tom Porter got chills as he carried a flag representing one of the fallen in a ceremony honoring Ohio soldiers, Marines, Air Force and Navy personnel who died during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
Porter, who served 12 years in the Navy, fought to keep tears from rolling down his face as he said he was honored and proud to be a part of the ceremony. "I'm really proud to see all the people who came here today to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice," Porter said.
Mayor Butch Zwelling told the crowd filled with family members, friends and former veterans that he found the sight of the flags "awesome." "These men and women fought for their country and our freedom," Zwelling said. "They didn't get to come home and enjoy it but we will never forget them or stop appreciating them."
Kathy Godwin, who lost her son, Lance Cpl. Todd Godwin from an IED on July 20, 2004, told the crowd that seeing the flags shows the cost of freedom. "I never get tired of seeing this," Godwin said. "Viewing the thousands of names on the flags and the traveling Vietnam Wall overcomes me with emotion. To see the sacrifice of our son compounded by thousands of others brings unspeakable sorrow."
But Godwin said she is reminded that the men and women who died all "saw something in this country that was worth fighting and dying for." "This is the land of opportunity and freedoms that I pray is never taken from us," Godwin said. "We Gold Star parents hate wars more than anyone, I believe, but we understand the need to protect something we love and believe in."
Godwin said one of the last things Todd did before he left home to go overseas was to make sure the flag at their home was properly displayed. "Todd was proud to be an American," Godwin said. "He knew that freedom does not come without sacrifice and our hearts are filled with pride."
As those in the crowd helped place each of the 193 flags and the names of each of those who died were read, one soon-to-be Cub Scout, Zackary Andrews, 4, stood patiently while he watched his father, Thad , carry a flag. A former vet, Robert Huston, from Syndey, stepped forward and helped little Zackary join the ceremony and carry several flags. Huston, who came to view the wall at Secrest Auditorium, said he came to the ceremony for "thousands of reasons," one of them being to honor his brother, Staff Sgt. Charles G. Huston, who listed is "Missing In Action" in Laos since 1968. "The little boy wanted to be part of this and I think that's wonderful," Huston said. "Patriotism starts at home and he's showing that even though young, he's just as patriotic as I am."
Barbara Lloyd, who lost her son Army Staff Sgt. Lester "Buddy" Kinney II on Jan. 27, 2004 to an IED, said what stirred her were the mementos on some of the flags. Lloyd pointed out on the flag for Lance Cpl. William Wightman, USMC, was a GI Joe in a Marine uniform and on the flag for Lance Cpl. Daniel M. McVicker, USMC, were pictures of him with his unit and senior pictures of him in high school, grinning ear to ear. "Those little tributes are left with such pride," Lloyd said. "To think that each and every one of these men and women volunteered to serve is so poignant. They chose to serve. There is such pride here. Such sorrow, but so much pride."
Zanesville Times Recorder