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Following a year of fundraising and construction, those efforts were rewarded on a picture-postcard spring day with the dedication of the Ohio Police and Fire Memorial Park on April 28.
An estimated crowd of 150 gathered in the park adjacent to OP&F headquarters to attend the dedication ceremony for the park, which is the only memorial to the state's police officers and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty. Among the guests were the OP&F Board of Trustees, representatives from the Ohio General Assembly, and the Governor's office.
Many family members of police officers and firefighters to whom the Park is dedicated also attended. Among those were Connie Moreland, who made the trip from Colorado Springs, Colo., and John and Paula Kalaman from Centerville, Ohio. Moreland's husband Albert was a Toledo police officer killed in the line of duty. The Kalaman's son Paul was a police officer for Centerville who died in 1998 while investigating a traffic accident. The City of Centerville purchased a granite bench in his memory.
The centerpiece of the park is a life-size bronze sculpture named A Call to Service. The sculpture depicts a police officer and firefighter assisting a child, and faces the granite memorial.
The park was built entirely through private funds raised by the Ohio Police and Fire Memorial Park, a tax-exempt non-profit organization. OP&F Executive Director William Estabrook called the fundraising campaign for the park a tremendous success, raising a total of $285,075, including $212,000 from corporate sponsors and $73,075 from the purchase of 315 engraved bricks and pavers and six engraved granite benches permanently located in the park.
Estabrook addressed the guests during the dedication and recognized several key individuals in attendance, including city dignitaries and families who traveled to be a part of the event.
Bob Beck, Chairman of the OP&F Board of Trustees, addressed the heroism of all public safety officials during the ceremony. He noted that it is not the intent of those entering the public safety field to be viewed as heroes. "Nobody goes into this job... and says to himself, 'Boy I want to get my name on that [memorial] someday,'" said Beck.
Steven Walker, Honorary Chairman of the Ohio Police and Fire Memorial Park Corporate Fundraising Campaign, also spoke and explained that being a part of the Memorial Park project has been "the single most fulfilling task" he has ever been asked to carry out.
OP&F Board of Trustees, Estabrook and sculptor Ronald Dewey broke ground for the park March 26, 2003, kicking off corporate and private fundraising efforts to fund construction and maintenance of the park.
Memorial Park presents an ongoing opportunity for individuals or organizations to show support or honor a particular police or fire hero as bricks and pavers will continue to be available for purchase. More information is available by calling 1-888-864-8363 or by visiting OP&F's website here.