–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, town criers across America announced the signing of an armistice that officially ended World War I. In Sylvania on Nov. 11, 2018, Town Crier Michael Lieber joined members of the military, local officials, and community members to honor this anniversary and dedicate a new memorial at Toledo Memorial Park.

The star-shaped memorial tablet made of black granite is engraved with 323 names of Lucas County soldiers, sailors, marines and nurses who served in World War I and did not return. The new memorial is placed near the Veterans Tower.

This is not the first time these names have been memorialized at Toledo Memorial Park. “Several years ago, Benjamin Gerken, one of our grounds crew, noticed some bronze markers among the trees on Memorial Way,” said Jeff Clegg, president of Toledo Memorial Park. “What he discovered was a remarkable story about the end of World War I, and it set us on a course to the dedication of this new memorial.”

Gerken discovered, with the help of Park staff and board members, that in 1922, 323 trees were planted in Toledo Memorial Park, commemorating residents who served in World War I and perished overseas. Bronze plaques inscribed with their names had been placed near the plantings. Nearly 100 years later, many of the plaques had been overtaken by the trees and were at risk of being forgotten. Gerken set out to find them all using a combination of shovels, metal detectors and jackhammers. He was able to unearth all the plaques and complete the list of names to be engraved on the new memorial tablet.

“This is a remarkable story of perseverance, and so fitting to honor the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War,” said Clegg. “We are honored to be able to bring new attention to this group of brave people who lost their lives in service to their country.”