Flags representing each U.S. military branch have been removed from the Lorain County Vietnam Veterans Memorial on North Lake Street.
“That west wind does a number on the flags,” Linda Horvath said. “People think we don’t change them. But it’s the wind. They could be double-foam, triple foam… It whips so hard that it rips that seam and the ends start to fray.”
She is the treasurer for the memorial committee and said weather has taken a heavy toll on the inner workings of flag poles at the memorial plaza, which is located next to the Amherst police station.
Ropes, gears, hooks, and pulleys that have been inside the poles since the memorial was dedicated in 2007 have become severely worn, Horvath said. The workings that raise the black flag in honor of prisoners of war were on their last legs.
And low temperatures and water have frozen the lock-boxes that provide access.
Horvath’s husband, Joe, is a veteran who won the Silver Star for rescuing 29 soldiers in South Vietnam as crew chief on an Army medical helicopter — all without any ground or air cover.
Along with fellow volunteers Mike Holha and Bill Jacobs, he was able to keep the POW-MIA, American, and Ohio flags flying through the winter — but replacing them is out of the question until spring. Linda Horvath said aging veterans can’t be expected to climb tall ladders in harsh weather and getting a bucket truck into the site now isn’t an option.
The remaining flags are each tattered, drawing angry phone calls and online comments, she said.
“We cannot do it in this weather. People are going to have to understand,” she told the News-Times. “Yes, the flags get tattered but at least they’re still up there.”
The Horvaths have been using memorial funds to cover repairs when possible, but often dig into their own pockets. They paid $2,500 for the POW pole and have ordered new flags and lights.
The American Legion Riders, a motorcycle group that honors veterans, have also donated through an annual poker run. This past year, the Riders also paid for three new benches at the memorial site.
After repairs are made this, Linda Horvath said the next possible enhancement to the property could be the addition of a small gazebo where visitors could sit and reflect.
Ongoing repairs and improvements are funded mainly through donations and the purchase of memorial pavers.
Donations may be sent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Lorain County, c/o Linda Horvath, 6433 Oberlin Rd., Amherst, OH 44001.
Pavers are $50 or $100 depending on size and may be purchased by calling 440-233-6233.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times Flags flying over the memorial to Lorain County’s lost 98 lives in Vietnam have become tattered but cannot be replaced until spring. Others have been taken down.