Flags honoring London’s fallen military will soon fly over High Street, thanks to a project by a local nonprofit group.
The Downtown London Association (DLA) is soliciting donations for a “Veterans Memorial Drive” to run the length of High Street from Elm Street to Madison Road, according to businessman Pat Closser, who is spearheading the effort.
Controversy over naming the city’s post office or a street in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Josh McDaniels, a London High School graduate who died in Afghanistan, sparked the effort. Congressman Steve Stivers and state Rep. Bob Hackett sought to memorialize McDaniels, but were met with stiff opposition from veterans and survivors of those who died in earlier conflicts. Most opponents wanted a broader memorial that included not only McDaniels, but all London residents killed in battle.
In a call to The Madison Press this week, Brent McDaniels emphasized that his family never sought a public memorial for his son. Others, including Hackett and Stivers, initiated the effort independently, McDaniels said.
Closser said the DLA agreed to take on a wider commemoration, based on a request from former London resident Janie Johnson whose brother, Tom, died fighting in Vietnam.
The DLA already hangs American flags from utility poles on Main, First and Second streets during warm-weather months. Former council president John Dixon and others in the community donated money last year to replace those flags.
About $750 remains in the fund, Closser said.
DLA members will use the $750 and solicit additional donations from individuals and veterans’ groups to erect new flags along High Street by July 4. The flags will honor either individual soldiers and sailors, or specific conflicts. Flag wording is yet to be determined, Closser said.
He estimated the DLA needs an additional $1,500 to complete the project. The group is currently working to identify London residents killed in conflicts since the Civil War.
Donations can be made in person to Closser at Casey’s Carryout, 123 S. Main St., or via mail to the DLA at P.O. Box 335, London, OH 43140. Donors should note “Flag Fund” on checks or envelopes.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.