"Ohio Veterans Plaza"
The inspiration for the Ohio Veterans Plaza is rooted in an act of civil disobedience. In 1981, two Vietnam veterans, Carl Chandler and Harry Edwards, erected under the cover of night on the Capitol grounds a hand painted four-by-eight-foot sheet of plywood as a tribute to veterans of the Vietnam War. As the story goes, the two were to be charged with trespassing and destruction of state property until then-State Senator Richard Pfeiffer, intervened. Pfeiffer, also a Vietnam veteran, convinced officials to allow the hand-made monument to stand for a specific period of time. Shortly thereafter, the Ohio legislature passed a bill to install a permanent veteran's monument. The plaza honors Ohio men and women who have served our country since World War II, as well as those who will serve in the future.
Designed by John Schooley, the memorial was part of the state's comprehensive restoration of Capitol Square. Construction of the plaza was the final feature of site improvements on the east grounds. After completion, the Ohio Veterans Plaza became the new east entrance to the Capitol Square (CS), a symbol that our government could not exist without the sacrifices Ohio veterans have made.
The plaza consists of a large grassy lawn meant to commemorate the traditional parade ground atmosphere of a military post, flanked at either end by an Ohio limestone wall inscribed with actual correspondence from Ohio military personnel involved in conflicts. In 1994, literary consultant John H. Mitchell, a Navy and Vietnam veteran from Greenfield, OH sorted through over 1500 letters solicited from Ohio families, selecting a wide variety that best portrays the trials and sacrifices of military service in wartime, then arranging them to best highlight the many and various experiences.
Other features of the plaza include limestone benches from which to contemplate the inscriptions, backed by annual flowers, two fountains, and plaque designations of the five branches of the armed services. Lined through the grass are the inscribed names of Ohio’s 88 counties with accompanying flagpoles as well as flagpoles displaying the American, Ohio and POW/MIA flags.
The plaza serves as the entrance for all tour and school groups with drop-off areas for busses. The Plaza and its design features not only commemorates Ohio veterans but also serves as an appropriate educational presence for the many visitors and students who pass the Statehouse grounds every day.
Click Here to read the letters home inscribed on the two curved walls on Veterans Plaza.