Photo by Julie Schatz and T.J. Hansen
The Defenders of Freedom
In 1939, a bridge was built over the Olentangy River and West North Broadway. This project left the area in need of beautification. The new Clintonville Woman's Club was up for the challenge. They declared West North Broadway between High Street and Olentangy River Road as "Memory Lane". Their vision was to create a citizen's memorial-recognizing those individuals and groups that were instrumental in making Clintonville. They selected the blooming crabapple tree and planted several, placing plaques beneath. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America entered what would be known as World War II. Young men and women flocked to serve our country by joining the branches of our military. A number of young men from Clintonville were lost and the Woman's Club decided to offer families the option to have a treated planted in the name of loved ones who died in the war. Ultimately, over 100 trees and plaques were added to Memory Lane. Each year, the community would recognize these Defenders of Freedom with flowers, flags and parades.
In the late 1970s, the plaques were collected in preparation for the building of State Route 315 and the widening of West North Broadway. The blooming trees were lost to the construction. After several years of discussion, the WWII plaques were mounted to a large stone and placed in Union Cemetery. The Clintonville Boys were missed. Residents asked often if and when Memory Lane would be restored. In May of 2012, the Clintonville Historical Society worked with hundreds of residents and dedicated the WWII Garden on West North Broadway at Milton. The garden bed is lined with antique bricks. The foundation of the monument is lined with Hallwood blocks. These blocks were part of the original street bed preserved by neighbor Arthur Efland and lovingly donated to this specific project because of its significance to our community. The garden is planted with perennials that will mature to provide material for future gardens. The stone is of black granite. The engraving on the east face comes from the original memorial. The engraving on the west face is the first verse of a song written by the father of one of the lost men. This song is sung annually by the North High School Alumni Choir at their North of the Fourth reunion.
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