Flag Day will be observed across the nation on Thursday, June 14, but Grove City will be carrying the feeling of patriotism on through the weekend.
The city will be host to the Ohio Flags of Honor traveling memorial for the eighth year from noon Friday, June 15, through 1 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at 3339 E. Park St., and will hold a dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial Park on Saturday, June 16.
The plaza's benches, light fixture and landscaping complement the memorial, which was installed on Memorial Day 2016.
The ceremony will be at 10:30 a.m. at the memorial park at the corner of Broadway and Columbus Street in the Town Center.
"The most important meaning of the memorial is to remember the sacrifice our families have made in all of our wars," Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said. "We always pay tribute to the service personnel we've lost, but their families have also made the ultimate sacrifice."
Along with Stage, Gold Star family members and the Grove City Division of Police honor guard, the ceremony will include the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima, Hershel "Woody" Williams, according to a press release from the city.
Williams, founder of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Foundation, will speak about the effort he has led to establish memorials around the country to honor the families of fallen military heroes.
He attended Grove City's installation of the memorial in 2016 and served as grand marshal of that year's Memorial Day parade.
"The idea for these memorials came from him and we're thrilled that he will be able to attend our ceremony on the 16th," Stage said.
The Ohio Flags of Honor display pays tribute to the 299 Ohioans who have lost their lives in military service since 2001.
The display features 299 full-size American flags, each representing an Ohio soldier killed since the war on terror began, said Daniel Lambert, vice president of the Ohio Flags of Honor Foundation board of directors.
Several hundred other tribute flags provided by veterans organizations also will be on display, he said.
"We want to honor all the military personnel who have given their lives through our history, but the Flags of Honor in particular pays tribute to those we have lost since 2001," Lambert said.
The memorial is traveling to 17 sites around Ohio in 2018. Grove City is the only Franklin County stop for Ohio Flags of Honor.
"Most of the places we send the memorial to have lost one or two or three community members in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that is certainly true of Grove City," Lambert said.
The Ohio Flags of Honor Foundation evolved from an initial project spearheaded by Gino and Lisa Zimmer, an Ohio couple whose son was killed in Kufa, Iraq, in May 2004.
The Zimmers were touched by the support of veterans motorcycle clubs and organizations who attended their son's funeral, and created the Operation Iraqi Freedom Chopper Fund, a nonprofit organization with the goal of build a tribute motorcycle that could tour the country to honor fallen service personnel, Lambert said.
That mission changed in September 2005 when the U.S. Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion/25th Regiment, were returning from duty in which heavy losses were suffered, he said.
"A local American Legion Post created an 'avenue of flags' the company could view at Rickenbacker Field to honor their fallen comrades and there was talk about how these flags could be sent around Ohio so other people could see them," Lambert said.
The OIFCF was contacted by the organizers of the flag display and it evolved into the Ohio Flags of Honor Foundation, he said.
Volunteers are needed to help post the flags around 7:30 a.m. Friday and load them for transport after 1 p.m. Sunday. Anyone interested in volunteering should meet at the Flags of Honor site.
A flag presentation will be held at 7 p.m. Friday with the Jackson Township Fire Department honor guard, followed by a concert by the Tom Daugherty Orchestra. Residents are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to the event.
"We're a community that prides itself in its patriotism, and this will be a very patriotic weekend," Stage said.
During Friday's ceremony on the stage at at the corner of Park Street and Arbutus Avenue, Stage will present a proclamation to Juanita Chambers, who won the Cookie Madness competition at Story Point Grove City.
Chambers, who has lived in the Grove City area throughout her life, won with her Jubilee Jumbles cookie recipe. She would regularly send batches of her cookies to her son, Mark, when he was serving at SAC headquarters in Omaha during the Vietnam War era.
"He'd always look forward to getting a box of cookies and he'd share them with his fellow soldiers," Chambers said. "I was sending him a little bit of home while he was away serving our country."
The Jubilee Jumbles cookie is a soft chocolate chip drop cookie "with an icing on it, if you want it, and you really should want icing," she said.
"I'm not really sure where I got the recipe but I imagine it came from my mother's side of the family," Chambers said.
Mark and his siblings grew up being treated to their mother's cookies on a regular basis.
"I'd probably bake up a batch once or twice a week," Chambers said. "I've always enjoyed baking. I just like getting all the ingredients out and seeing what I can do with them."