CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A little-known Cincinnati monument, that has weathered years of abuse from mother nature, car accidents and vandals, is getting a re-birth of sorts.
An Army veteran is making it his personal mission, to restore The Mohawk Honor Roll.
Mike Kirchgessner really wanted to show his kids what their Great-Grandfather and four Great Uncles had accomplished in World War Two. But The Mohawk Honor Roll monument that used to bear their names, was in a sad state.
So, like any good patriot, he took action.
Thousands of people speed past the busy corner of Ravine and McMicken Streets, just off Central Parkway, every day.
"I really doubt any of the younger generation has any idea what this is and what it's about," Kirchgessner said.
Unless you were raised in the tiny Mohawk community, many people would have no idea what the long-standing monument, The Mohawk Honor Roll, stood for.
Kirchgessner went dumpster diving to explain. He reached into a huge dumpster next to where the monument used to stand and pulled out some bricks.
"In here is the body of the monument itself," Kirchgessner said. "What the monument was made out of, they used cinder block pillars in 1945, they didn't use rebar."
Those are the solid steel poles used to strengthen concrete before it's poured. So, when they began to dismantle the monument during the restoration process, it just fell apart, once the top portion was removed.
"That's a good chunk of the wall right there," he said pointing to a solid piece of the golden-bricked pillar sitting inside the dumpster. "What it looked like."
The monument's was dedicated on November 18th, 1945. It was a beautiful tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gone to war for their country. Or almost all of them.
"The war had literally just ended," Kirchgessner said. "So there were just some people who were accidentally left off."
Vandals stole the bronze plaques that held the names of the 600-plus members of the Army, Army Air Corps back then, The Navy, the Marines and then the Merchant Marines. Many of the people listed on the original plaques are still alive today.
"I'll get a phone call here and there and they'll say, 'Yeah, I was on the monument', and it's fascinating to talk to those people and hear their stories," Kirchgessner said.
Unlike the old monument from 65 years ago, the new monument will contains ten new names, 9 men and one woman.
"Didn't know where 'Johnny' went, you know? Well, we're gonna fix that this time around," Kirchgessner said.
The plan is to re-use as many of the original bricks as possible. Facing the monument is a bronze plaque, showing ten soldiers who did not return from the war. The corner lot where both monuments stand had been slated to become a turning lane, until another gentleman, Charles Barnett, took action.
"He purchased it from the city for one dollar," Kirchgessner said. "It's a full-time job almost to make sure this is taken care of."
Barnett has cared for the lot himself since the late 80's.
Kirchgessner said he still needs 15-thousand dollars to pay for carving all the names into permanent granite plaques for the new monument. There is money promised from the Ohio Cultural Facility, but the application process and paperwork could take weeks. But, if a private donor ponyed-up the cash now, Kirchgessner said he has the volunteers and supplies ready. He could complete the entire restoration in two weeks. He hopes to re-dedicate the monument by this November 18th.
If you'd like to donate to the non-profit group hoping to preserve the Mohawk Honor Roll, you can click on the link below.
Or you can contact the man spearheading the effort:
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