World War II memorials live on at Groveport Elementary

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Elementary principal April Bray and fifth grade student Chase Bachman stand next to the World War II Roll of Honor, which has hung in the entry way of the school since the late 1940s when the school served as the district’s high school. The Roll of Honor lists the names of Groveport Madison High School graduates who served in World War II. Bachman wears a U.S. Army hat that has been passed down over the years in his family.

The recent 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which triggered the United States’ entry into World War II, brings to mind two memorials situated at Groveport Elementary School that recognize those who served in that war.

One of the memorials is quite noticeable, though many of the drivers on Groveport’s Main Street who pass by it each day may not know what it is. The memorial is a large stone that sits in the northwest corner of the front lawn of Groveport Elementary facing Main Street and downtown Groveport. The stone was placed on this spot by the Groveport Lions Club during a ceremony on Memorial Day in 1946. A simple plaque attached to the stone 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 emergency occupation. Dedicated by the Groveport Lions Club, 1946.”

Placing the stone there ensured it would be seen by many people then, now and for years to come. Nestled in the soft green grass, this stone – a lasting symbol of strength – is an elegantly simple reminder of the profound sacrifices made by the members of the Groveport Madison community in service to their country during the war.

The World War II memorial stone that sits in the northwest corner of the front lawn of Groveport Elementary. The stone was placed there by the Groveport Lions Club in 1946 to honor those from the community who served in the war.

The school’s front lawn is an appropriate setting for such a memorial because the school – known as Groveport School then – was a place that many of these World War II veterans shared the common life experience of school days in their youth. The memorial stone binds past, present, and future together.

The other World War II memorial at the school hangs on the wall within the main entry way of Groveport Elementary. It is a handsomely framed Roll of Honor listing the names of more than 200 Groveport Madison alumni who served in World War II. The Roll of Honor was placed in this spot in the years just after World War II. Notable on this Roll of Honor are the Gold Stars affixed next to the names of six Groveport Madison alumni who lost their lives in World War II. They are Robert Carl, class of 1941; Thane Hecox, class of 1939; Charles Miller, class of 1942; Robert Nelson, class of 1940; Harold Palsgrove, class of 1925; and Roger Thornton, class of 1940.

Photo courtesy of the Groveport Heritage Museum
The Groveport Lions Club dedicating the World War II memorial stone at Groveport School on Memorial Day in 1946.

Groveport Elementary School principal April Bray wants to make sure the school’s staff and students know the history behind the two World War II memorials.

“It is important to maintain these memorials at the school to help students understand the sacrifices of those who came before us because they provided us with the freedom we have today,” said Bray. “Part of the social studies curriculum asks students to look at past and present events and how they shape our future. All we have to do is walk in our front entry way to be reminded of a historical event that shaped our country. Having these memorials here at the school makes it more real for the kids because these men who served attended this very same school and someday our students may be asked to serve, too.”

Chase Bachman is a fifth grader at Groveport Elementary whose great-grandfather served in World War II, his grandfather served in the Vietnam War, and his brother, Andrew, will leave for military service on June 11 to become an Apache helicopter mechanic.

Bachman said seeing the Roll of Honor and memorial stone at school every day “means a lot to me.”

“I’m thankful for the people who served,” said Bachman. “They are the ones who served and gave us our freedom.”

Prior to Veterans Park being built on Groveport’s Main Street in 1997, as well as the establishment of Motts Military Museum, these two World War II memorials at Groveport Elementary were the only formal, public war memorials in town.

World War II ended 72 years ago, but the war’s impact and the efforts made by those who served is still being felt. So, some time when you have a few spare moments, wander down to Groveport Elementary to see the memorial stone and reflect on what it means. To see the Roll of Honor inside the school and read the names listed there, contact Groveport Elementary at (614) 836-4975 for permission to enter the building.

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