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Local veterans honoring War Mothers

Memorial Park Superintendent Laurie Davis (left) and volunteer Steve Peckinpaugh display the new flag honoring the Henry County Chapter of the American War Mothers. A dedication ceremony takes place at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the War Mothers Memorial, the former site of the Doughboy statue.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

What better time of the year to say thank you to “War Mothers” of the past than on Mother’s Day weekend?

Call it serendipity, perhaps.

Henry County Memorial Park will have a new flag flying Saturday afternoon in honor of the Henry County Chapter of the American War Mothers.

Ninety years ago, this group of local women raised the money to commission a bronze statue of an American soldier fighting in the trenches of Europe.

The county’s “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue stood on a wooded hill for many years.

With the help and support of the Henry County community, the statue was recently refurbished and moved to a plaza at the W.G. Smith Building, at the entrance to the park’s future museum to local veterans.

Steve Peckinpaugh, an Army veteran, was the driving force behind repairing and relocating the Doughboy.

Peckinpaugh has also been working to make sure the efforts of the Henry County War Mothers are not forgotten.

Peckinpaugh had a special memorial flag designed for the War Mothers. The flag will fly over the hill where the Doughboy stood for so long.

The public is invited to a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the park. Following the ceremony, the hill will become the War Mothers of Henry County Memorial.

“It immortalizes the site,” Peckinpaugh said.

The new flag is based off the original War Mothers flag in Washington, D.C.

The original flag is white with a red edge. In the center there are a blue star and a gold star. Blue stars represent families who have someone serving or a family member who has previously served in the military.

Gold star families are ones who have lost a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman to war.

The Henry County War Mothers flag increased the number of stars to include all the major conflicts following World War I. The flag also includes a silhouette of the Doughboy with notations showing the statue’s original dedication and relocation years.

Several people, including Roseanne Hardwick from Flags A Fly’n, helped come up with the final design.

The Memorial Park Board approved the design at their April business meeting.

“I am thankful for all the efforts of the committees and groups that have worked so hard to make the park better and a place that people want to be,” said Park Board President Landon Dean. “I know not everyone agrees on specific endeavors, but everyone should be happy about the efforts of all who have stepped up to help. Truly a community working together.”

New Castle VFW Post #1282 covered the cost of the flag and will lead the dedication ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Memorial Park Superintendent Laurie Davis was happy to see local veterans involved with the effort.

“I was glad to hear the VFW was purchasing and presenting the flag to the park, to the community and, most of all, to the descendants of the Henry County War Mothers,” Davis said. “It is always an honor and a pleasure to accept new memorials or something new for existing memorials at the park.”