By Rick Palsgrove
The town of Groveport has always honored and embraced Memorial Day dating all the way back to the day’s origins in the post-Civil War period.
While each of these Memorial Days of the past, present, and future is special in its own right, one Memorial Day in particular stands out in Groveport history.
World War II had ended in 1945. It was a war on such a mammoth scale that it affected and touched the lives of countless people.
In addition to the traditional parade and ceremonies in the Groveport Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 30, 1946, a special ceremony was held on the front lawn at what was then Groveport High School (now Groveport Elementary). At 3 p.m. that day, the Groveport Lions Club dedicated a large stone memorial to those men and women of Groveport and Madison Township who served in World War II.
Groveport in those days had no official “town square” (and it really still doesn’t), so the front lawn of the school was chosen as a prominent downtown spot for the World War II Stone Memorial. The school yard was an appropriate setting as the school was the place where all the local veterans shared a common experience of life in their school days. The Memorial Stone rests in the northeast corner of the Groveport School front lawn near the intersection of Wirt Road and Main Street. Placing the Memorial Stone at this site ensured it would be seen daily by many people.
The May 30, 1946 ceremony included music by the high school band; flag raising by the American Legion Robert Dutro Post 486 Color Guard; a salute to the World War II dead by a rifle squad and buglers; an invocation by Rev. Ernest Winterhoff; and speeches by Groveport Lions Club President Foster Mills, Mayor J. R. Buchman, American Legion Robert Dutro Post 486 Commander Carl Benson, Spanish-American War veteran Frederick Mills, General Chairman Edgar Dietz, Jr., World War I veteran Stephen McClish, Malcolm Sims of the U.S. Army, State Senator Roscoe Walcutt, Robert Zarbaugh of the Navy, and Arthur Hamler of the Marines.
Following the speeches, the good-sized, expectant crowd – some sitting in the grass, others standing, and a few more sitting on their bicycles on the edge of Main Street – watched as representatives of the Groveport Lions Club unveiled the Memorial Stone.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Gold Star mother Mazie Palsgrove (and my great-grandmother), whose son Harold died in World War II, laid flowers at the base of the Memorial Stone after its unveiling.
The Memorial Stone is a large Ohio boulder emblazoned with a simple plaque that reads: “Erected in honor of those men and women of this community who served in the armed forces during the Second World War and the following occupation.” Coupled with the Memorial Stone is a list of those from the community who served in World War II. This “Roll of Honor” is located in the foyer of Groveport Elementary. A gold star is affixed beside the names of those who lost their lives during the war.
Time rolls on. Memories fade. But nestled in the soft, green grass of the school yard, the World War II Memorial Stone endures and is an elegantly simple reminder to all of us of the profound sacrifice made by the members of the Groveport Madison community in service to their country.