Memorials get new life at old Greenon site

While schools and organizations are planning a variety of ways to recognize veterans this Friday, something special is happening on the grounds of the old Greenon.

Over the last few months, a group of Greenon alumni and local officials have been quietly working on a project that salutes Greenon students lost in Vietnam in addition to other students who passed away as students over the years.

This project is being led by Randy Ark, a 1966 graduate of Greenon, who is known throughout the area for his work honoring veterans.

Ark is a Vietnam Veteran himself. He served there as a combat medic to a Marine Corps unit from 1968 to 1969.

“Initially, it all began when I realized how weathered and broken the first memorial dedicated to these four Greenon students was,” said Ark.

Ark knew three of these guys in high school, and he felt that he had to do something.

“I was not with them in Vietnam, but Billy Bloomfield was killed on my birthday in 1969. I never heard about it while over there …I turned 21 the day he died.”

Ark designed a new stone to replace the weathered memorial stone that was originally located by the flagpole between the tennis courts and the front door of the old Greenon.

“My original intention was to have it placed at the new Greenon High School, but after some discussions, it was decided to place this memorial at a location that was familiar to Greenon Alumni,” he said.

Recent alumni will remember the flag and memorial area originally dedicated to Patrick Jacobson in 2008. The spirit rock that was once in that area has been relocated to the new building.

“Old shrubbery and ground cover has been removed; a new center flagpole has been replaced thanks to the Class of 1969, who donated $3,540 for the new flagpole,” said Ark. “A working electrical line has been connected to multiple ground spotlights; footers have been dug and poured and are ready for the new memorials.”

Other memorials and plaques located around the area where the old Greenon stood are being brought together in the new memorial area. Footers are being poured and memorials will be on display again soon. When the project is completed, a dedication ceremony will be announced.

Ark sang the praises of those who supported this project. School Board President Dennis Henry, Greenon Superintendent Darrin Knapke, Brenda Sweet and Dennis Brown from the Enon Community Historical Society, John McCarty from Greenon’s maintenance dept., New View Landscaping and Josh Walters from Dodds Memorials were all instrumental in pushing this renovation forward. And of course the Class of 1969.

Since Veterans Day is coming up, Ark took the time to explain why this Veterans’ memorial is important to him and why Veterans Day needs to be observed.

“It’s more than friendship that drives me to help veterans and to create memorials to acknowledge and remember those who served our country, and especially those who died defending our freedoms and the freedoms of other peoples, too,” he said.

“Although I am categorized 100% disabled, I did return home alive … over 58,400 didn’t. I want people to be aware and never forget the price that was paid for the freedoms they enjoy.

“Those four boys/men’s lives were cut short by war. As a combat medic, I tried my best to prevent a soldier from dying. And now I’m trying to prevent people from forgetting those four veterans and all those who fought for our country.”

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