GUEST COLUMN: Area memorials honor those who gave lives for our freedoms

Robert Rinearson

As you enter Memorial Park off of Glasgow, you might miss the arch to your left as it is somewhat hidden by the pine trees around it. But it is there standing erect, just as it has since its foundation was laid in 1928.

The monument, dedicated to those from Allen County who gave their lives for their country during what was then referred to as The Great War, was designed by Capt. John K. Shawvan and constructed by the Muldoon Monument Company out of Louisville, Ky.

The Muldoon Monument Co. is more famously known for building a 70-foot tall monument that was originally built in 1895 on the University of Louisville campus. It was relocated in 2016 to Brandenburg, Ky. by the Ohio River. I’m sure that such a monument, dedicated to those who died in war, will be more appreciated by those in Brandenburg rather than a modern college campus.

Capt. Shawvan, who was born in Milwaukee, became known throughout America for his classical designs of monuments. In 1917, he joined the U.S. Army. Commissioned as a second lieutenant, he went to France to serve in the U.S. Expeditionary Force.

The monument that Capt. Shawvan designed for Fort Wayne, was created from his intimate knowledge of what our own sons had experienced. The battles are noted at the uppermost of the arch. Belleau Wood, Argonne, Soissons and St. Mihiel are among the battles that gave modern war its terrible face.

But as you draw close to the arch, on the inside you see the names of those who died. There is Sgt. Manfort Melchi, killed in action on a battlefield in France on May 12, 1918. There is also Pvt. Charles Spivey, who took his last breath on Aug. 10, 1918. Among the names is Walter Gabet, July 6, 1918 and Col. James Eby who died Oct. 10 of the same bloody year.

There are others. Despite the fact that their sacrifices occurred more than 100 years ago, they still have everything to do with the freedoms that we enjoy today, though it may seem that not all Americans are willing to grasp that freedom comes at a cost.

People do go to Memorial Park. But I suspect they come more for the playgrounds and gym equipment, the softball fields, the swimming pool and the basketball courts. I doubt that most who visit the park are even aware why the park even exists.

There are other monuments. Included is the monument paid for by the Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club which shows the silhouette of a fully grown tree whose roots run deep. A little farther south in the park is the Allen County Veterans Memorial that was dedicated in 1994. It is this monument that in its inscription reminds us of why we enjoy the freedoms that so many throughout the world can only dream of. It reads “Supreme sacrifices of life were made by some, while others lost limbs, minds and families. The living and the dead have dwelled on secure shores and have been sheltered from the storms of war and its winds of destruction, because of these brave soldiers of America’s fortunes. The unborn will inherit the same because of the continuing sacrifice.”

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for you to visit Memorial Park. It might be educational, perhaps inspirational. But its monuments should remind us that no matter where the battlefield was, or what year the battle was fought, for all of those who served, we shall never forget!

– Rob Rinearson is a Fort Wayne resident. Email him at robert.rinearson53@gmail.com

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