SIDNEY — The 1,000 flags that were the Field of Valor are rolled and stored. The AVTT-TWF Vietnam War Memorial replica wall is on its way to grace another community. The Shelby County Historical Society’s (SCHS) Week of Valor has ended.
“There was something every single day that would move you to tears,” said SCHS President Julie Gilardi, of Sidney.
The special event began Aug. 30 when the flags were installed in Custenborder Park. The SCHS oversaw at least one event daily until the wall was dismantled and the flags retired on Sept. 6.
During the Week of Valor, there was a program in the Monumental Building honoring local servicemen who were heroes in America’s wars; a rededication of the Court Street Bridge by Ohio Senate President Keith Faber and other dignitaries; the escort by some 3,000 motorcyclists, installation and exhibit of the Vietnam War Memorial replica; an exhibit, coordinated by Gateway Arts Council, of art by local veterans ; a concert by the Sidney Civic Band; a talk by author and veteran David Taylor; a cruise-in; a 5K race; a pancake breakfast served by the Sidney Rotary Club; two honor rides by motorcyclists; Mass celebrated by the Rev. Anthony Cutcher; and opening and closing ceremonies.
Participating in the event, along with the organizations named above, were the Sidney Altrusa Club, Sidney Boy and Cub Scouts, the Sidney VFW, the Sidney American Legion, the Sidney Police Department, the Sidney Fire Department, Shelby County Gold Star Mothers, the Catholic Veterans Association, the Sidney Blue Star Support Group, the Gold Star Wives, the Sidney AmVets and dozens of volunteers.
“It was a wonderful week. This week emphasized the commitment of this community to its veterans,” said SCHS Director Tilda Phlipot, of Sidney.
Both she and Gilardi praised the volunteers and staff:
“The volunteers worked countless hours every day to make sure that every event went well. That is the most amazing thing to me. How do you thank these people for all the things they do?” Phlipot said.
“The community spirit was wonderful. Everyone pitched in. The committees worked tirelessly and Tilda Phlipot is amazing. I don’t know how she gets done what she gets done,” Gilardi said. “The staff outdid themselves. I commend her and the staff.”
SCHS sold about 700 of the 1,000 flags that flew in the Field of Valor.
“We’re still selling flags,” said SCHS Administrative Assistant Sharon Mohrbacher, of Sidney. “We had every flag on the field whether it sold or not.”
As the flags were retired, Gilardi and SCHS Trustee Faye Spangler read the names of every person who had been honored with a flag. Boy and Cub Scouts presented each flag to the donor who had purchased it.
Final numbers have not yet been tabulated, but organizers estimated that attendance equaled a similar event SCHS staged in 2010. Bad weather kept cruise-in participation down this time, but about 60 cars were on display during the show. Information about who won people’s choice awards was not available at press time.
Students from Hardin-Houston, Russia, Holy Angels and Longfellow schools, as well as the public, attended the Taylor speech. Bands from Fairlawn, Sidney, Anna, Jackson Center and Houston high schools performed during the bridge dedication.
“The pancake breakfast was really successful, too. (People) were waiting in line for a half hour to get pancakes,” Mohrbacher said.
Mark Trick, of Vandalia, and Linda Barhorst, of Houston, were the top male and female finishers in the 5K race.
Phlipot said she witnessed many poignant moments as area residents visited Custenborder Field during the week.
“There’s story after story about reunification and forgiveness. The healing that comes out of this — I can’t explain it,” Phlipot said.