The soldiers of Salem who never came home received their recognition Saturday with the dedication of the Hope Cemetery Veterans Memorial — their names etched in stone to remind all citizens of their sacrifice.
Salem resident Ida Turri McCollum knew the sacrifice all too well.
During the Laying of the Roses ceremony, she laid a rose on the memorial in honor of all those killed in Vietnam, but especially for her brother, 21-year-old Charles Joseph Turri, whose final resting place is just over the hill from the new memorial.
“I’m sure he’s looking down on us and very proud,” McCollum said, adding she was proud to be a part of the dedication service.
A private first class in the U.S. Army, Turri earned the Bronze Star for heroism, the Vietnam Combat Ribbon and the National Defense Medal. He was killed on March 12, 1969 when he stopped to assist another truck driver.
His name and the names of 165 other Salem citizens who died in war were listed on the flat stone with the heading “The Supreme Sacrifice for Freedom” — 86 in the Civil War, eight in World War I, 53 in World War II, 14 in Korea and five in Vietnam. Next to the top of the stone, an eternal flame in the middle of a star-shaped stone burns in their memory.
Three separate upright granite stones stand in front of the flat stone, with the number of all dead listed for every war involving Americans, beginning with the Revolutionary War. Three flag poles stand behind those stones, flying the various service flags, the POW-MIA flag, the American flag and the original American flag with 13 stars and stripes. The memorial includes benches listing the names of the 200 donors who contributed money to the $50,000 project completed by Logue Monument.
John Szymcyk, adjutant for the Disabled American Veterans, Salem Chapter 122, chaired the project and received a plaque presented by Cliff Mix, vice president of the Historic Hope Cemetery Board.
“The monument is a very fitting addition to the city of Salem,” past V.F.W. State Commander Jim Dickens of Salem said.
A former commander of the Washingtonville V.F.W. Post, Dickens served as moderator for the dedication. He said its always important to remember what the service men and women who gave their lives sacrificed and to commemorate them.
Eugene “Ike” Spack of Goshen Township placed the rose in remembrance of the dead from World War II, the last of six brothers who served in the U.S. Army or U.S. Navy.
“I did it for all my brothers,” he said.
Spack served in the Ninth Division of the U.S. Army during World War II and spent seven months as a prisoner of war after being captured in Germany. He recently received France’s highest award when he was given the Knight of the Legion of Honor award. His brother, George Thomas Spack, was killed during World War II in Europe.
Others who placed roses in honor of the Salem dead from each war included: Korean War U.S. Air Force veteran Rodney Hank Allenbaugh for Korea; Marilyn Hart, daughter of the late World War I veteran John C. Litty Sr. of Salem, for World War I; and Salem Councilman Clyde Brown, whose great-grandfather Amos Brown of New Albany died in a Confederate prison at Millen, Georgia while serving with the Sixth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry of the Union Army during the Civil War. When he was first captured in battle, he spent time in the Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
“The veterans deserve it,” Salem resident Margaret Kuniewicz said while admiring the memorial.
Her late husband, Leon, served in the U.S. Army during World War I and she called him a great veteran, always wanting to help other veterans.
“It’s certainly a great day for Salem to recognize those citizens who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Sam McKinney, who coordinated the dedication ceremony hosted by the Salem Patriotic and Memorial Association and the Board of Directors of Historic Hope Cemetery.
Guest of Honor retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert McCluggage of Salem said most Americans today seem to get their idea of war from the movies, but he said “Hollywood has no idea what war is really like.”
Dr. John Payne, representing U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio, gave a flag to the cemetery. The flag had been flown over the U.S. Capitol on May 17 at Wilson’s request in honor of those Salem citizens “who gave their lives in service to their country.” The flag will be flown at the cemetery on special occasions, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.
Some other participants in the ceremony included: Salem Mayor Jerry Wolford, who laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial; Chaplain Ross B. Jackson of Salem, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who offered the invocation and benediction; Salem Boy Scouts Troop 2, leading the Pledge of Allegiance; the Canfield Community Band, playing the “National Anthem” sung by Cassie Utt of Salem, a patriotic melody and “Taps”; the Marine Corps League Escorts; and local drill teams and honor guards.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at email@example.com
Retired Marines from the Marine Corps League Escorts based in Youngstown unveil the Hope Cemetery Veterans Memorial piece inscribed with the names of Salem's war dead. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)