Recognizing and honoring the men and women who served our country has been the pride and joy and mission of life of New Straitsville resident Joe Maroon, who says it has been 20 years ago since the Memorial Association dedicated their first monument in this small southern Perry County community.

Over the years, Joe and his long time friend, the late Connie Dunkle, worked diligently with others to turn an empty space in town into what is now called Monument Square. The square is complete with lights, flags, green space, and a handicap accessible ramp.

Several months after Connie’s passing, her daughter Pam Nutter, delivered a scrapbook to Joe that her mother had put together over the years. The scrapbook is filled with news clippings and names of 186 veterans from the Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII as well as an article on those who served on the USAT Dorchester when it was hit by a German torpedo on Feb. 3, 1943 and sank 20-minutes later.

On this ship came the story of the Four Immortal Chaplains, who stayed behind so that others could survive. There were 900 passengers bound for a U.S. Army base in Greenland. “None of these veterans names were listed on any of the memorials that we have,” stated Joe. “I couldn’t believe this.”

Over the past 20 years, we have added a memorial wall listing 800 names, and an Iwo Jima memorial, which all have been a source of pride for our community and county, plus a way of honoring family heroes, who were prepared to, and often did, give their lives.”

On Saturday, May 19 starting at 11 a.m. a dedication ceremony will take place to remember and honor the Four Immortal Chaplains that included; a Catholic priest, Father John P., Washington; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; the Rev. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed minister, and the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister, plus the veterans of the Spanish American War, Civil War, World War I and World War II.

These names have been inscribed on the back side of one of the memorials by Robert Howard of Quality Monument of New Lexington.

Opening remarks will be made by Joe, who will also introduce featured speaker Sgt. Doug Gill of the Perry County Sheriff’s Department, who grew up in New Straitsville.

“It took months to cross reference the names so we would not duplicate or omit someone,” said Joe. “I had lots of help from people, and I truly thank them for all they do for our town and our veterans. I know many people won’t believe this, but this is going to be my final monument. I will make sure they are all cared for, but it’s time for me to slow down. I just want everyone to know that I have done all this for the love of our veterans and this is a way to thank them for their service.”

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