By Tara Figurski
Reynoldsburg American Legion Post 798 hopes to get some help with renovating the Reynoldsburg High School Fallen Veterans Memorial.
The memorial was created in 2007 to honor United States Army Captain Matthew Mattingly, who was killed in Iraq in Sept. 13, 2006. Mattingly was a Reynoldsburg High School graduate.
“His high school friends wanted to create a memorial to honor his service,” said Post Commander Pete Margaritis.
Margaritis said in the process of gathering information for the Fallen Veterans Memorial the friends located other Reynoldsburg graduates who died in action. They came up with eight names.
The memorial was dedicated in October 2008 and consists of a circular patio on the Reynoldsburg High School Livingston campus.
“If you drive by on Livingston you can see it right out in front,” Margaritis said. “The wall of the patio is low enough that people can sit on it.”
The names of the eight individuals who died in action are engraved in plates mounted in the center of the memorial.
After the Memorial was created no regular maintenance was performed, Margaritis said. Weeds started to grow and the memorial fell into a state of disarray.
“We noticed this and thought ‘This is wrong,’” Margaritis said. “We decided to approach the high school and do something to renovate (the memorial),” he said.
The American Legion entered into a memo of understanding with the high school allowing the American Legion to renovate the memorial.
Renovation on the memorial began on the Fourth of July, Margaritis said. Legion members wanted to expand on the existing memorial by adding a five sided stone in the center of the memorial that includes the seals of all five branches of the military.
“On top of that we are researching to see if there are any other individuals from Reynoldsburg High School who died in action that we should put on the memorial as well,” Margaritis said.
The American Legion has plans to add two flag poles – one pole for the American flag and one for the Prisoner of War flag.
American Legion members plan to move the plates located in the circular section of the patio to the side of the memorial. He said there has been some concern about people walking on the plates where they are now located.
The anticipated cost of the renovation project is $25,000 and, to date, the American Legion has raised $9,000.
The project is 100 percent dependent on private donations from the community. Any community member or business that donates $500 will be recognized in a special ceremony at City Hall.
The American Legion will be selling a memorial brick to formally recognize a special veteran community members may want to honor. The pavers will be set in the entrance ramp to the memorial, Margaritis said.
“This is going to be a memorial for the fallen heroes who went to Reynoldsburg High School,” he said. “(Students) can reflect, sit down, talk and remember what individuals did for us.”
Margartis said fallen heroes fought to preserve freedom and liberty and paid the ultimate sacrifice when they died in action.
“These kids put on the uniform of our country to serve overseas because they are the fabric of America,” he said. “These are individuals who ran, laughed and played sports just like us. Sometimes they were our next door neighbor.”
Margaritis said he believes the memorial is the only memorial in the city of Reynoldsburg for fallen veterans.