CIRCLEVILLE — The Eyes of Freedom and Spirit of America’s Story will be coming into town for the Pumpkin Show and organizers are asking the community to come out and welcome them to the area.
The Eyes of Freedom is a traveling memorial of several paintings of soldiers from Lima Company who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lima Company was one of the hardest hit units of the operation, as 23 members of the company were killed in combat. In addition to the paintings, they’ve recently added Silent Battle, a bronze sculpture of a soldier that represents the mental battles veterans go through after their time in the service.
The Eyes of Freedom has been inside Memorial Hall each year the last handful of years during the Circleville Pumpkin Show with Spirit of America’s Story joining them for the last two.
The event will take place on Monday, Oct. 14. The procession will meet at Scioto Downs at 5 p.m. and The Eyes of Freedom and Spirit of America’s Story will be escorted by motorcycles and the Ohio State Highway Patrol who will meet the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Department at the Pickaway County line. They’ll then be escorted from there through town to the intersection of Pickaway Street and East Main Street.
“Hopefully they’ll be in around 6 p.m. and we’ve got a little ceremony planned for them,” Terry Sloan, organizer of the event, said. “We’ve never done anything to welcome them into Circleville we’ve just had the escort.”
Sloan said Don McIlroy, Circleville Mayor will offer comments and the Circleville High School Band will be on hand to play a couple of songs. Mike Strahle, executive director for the Eyes of Freedom will also be presented with an award.
“Hopefully we’ll have a crowd of people there,” Sloan said. “It’ll be short, about 15 minutes but it would be nice to have a good crowd. It’s nothing big or elaborate but it’s something to show appreciation for them coming to the Pumpkin Show.
The weather is supposed to be nice.”
Strahle said unlike other events where the escort is designed to raise attention to their arrival to a town, for the Pumpkin Show it’s more of a tribute.
“The motorcycle escort is a way of honoring the men we honor here and bringing in the tribute in a grand fashion,” he said. “The escort at the Pumpkin Show gets bigger and bigger every year. We’re excited for our biggest one yet this year. The escort is typically a way to let people know where we are and to come see it but with the Pumpkin Show’s loyal crowds it becomes more about honoring the tribute.”
Sloan said he wanted to show appreciation and support to his fellow veterans.
“It’s all about spreading the word and helping the veterans get over the things that trouble them,” Sloan commented. “I didn’t go through what a lot of these people go through and I understand what it can do to you, particularly now that they’ve got the Silent Battle sculpture. That is very powerful. It’s touched many veterans in Pickaway County. Some have come away weeping, some have come away happy but they all have gotten something out of it. That’s what it’s all about.”