Traveling Memorial honoring fallen Marines arrives for Medina County Fair

MEDINA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - This week at the Medina County Fair, fair-goers will have the opportunity to see a traveling memorial to the 14 marines whose lives were lost in an Iraqi roadside bomb attack in August of 2005.

The Lima Company "Eyes of Freedom" memorial is made up of eight panels that feature life sized portraits of those who were lost. The memorial is the product of a vision that artist Anita Miller had in Columbus after hearing the news of the bombing.

Miller read about the passing of the Marines in the newspaper and wanted to do something for their mothers and fathers. The end result is called the "Eyes of Freedom."

Sean Flaharty, who helps manage the memorial, has a special connection to one of the men pictured. Sgt. Justin Hoffman was a close friend.

"He was a really, really good guy. From what I'm told he was a really great marine, and I miss him, but at the same time, I feel like he's right next to me at all times because of this project," Flaharty said.

Corporal Mike Strahle knows even more of the men you see pictured. He served alongside many of them and survived the roadside bomb that took their lives.

"It used to be a big struggle and I always joke with Anita about how it would be easier if she did a terrible job painting these things. She did a great job, and they really do come to life when you are standing in front of the portrait, and of course, you've got a spare set of each of those guys' boots sitting right in front of them, and those are boots that those guys actually wore, trained in, fought in. That really makes it come alive for everyone that is involved," Strahle said.

Strahle travels with the memorial.

"We try to do our best targeting all of the civilian population of our towns that we visit, but more importantly, even the veterans and their families, we try to engage them wherever we go," Strahle said.

For the families of those who paid the ultimate price, the "Eyes of Freedom," memorial is a timeless tribute to their American hero. The Medina County Fair runs from July 31 to Aug. 6.

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