Ottawa Hills, Ohio, is a beautiful little residential enclave on the edge of Toledo. With shady streets and manicured lawns providing the setting for a diverse collection of upscale homes forming a town large enough to support it’s own school district; Ottawa Hills Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools. OHHS is the alma mater of my crewman, LTJG Robert Taft Hanson, Jr. He was killed the day we were shot down over North Vietnam. He was 24 years old. His remains were returned through Hickam AFB in 1988.

Over the past year a group of OHHS alumni have financed and established the “Liberty Memorial”, a flag pole in an attractive brick and concrete base circled by cement benches in front of the school. On the base are three marble plaques, on two of which are engraved the names of OHHS alums who have served in our nation’s military, some with inscribed stars denoting their ultimate sacrifice; KIA.

I was invited to speak to the students and community members at the dedication of the memorial earlier this month. I spoke mainly to the students, emphasizing the axiom that “Freedom Isn’t Free”, and how blessed they were by their school mates who have gone before them and served to guarantee their freedom. Hard to believe; that handsome young Naval Officer from Ottawa Hills, Ohio who was my friend and crewman in 1966, would now be close to 70 years old.

Every high school in America should have a living “Liberty Memorial.”