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Fallen Heroes’ Stories Told in Barnesville

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Michael Newsom and daughter Bailey of Barnesville view the Eyes of Freedom Lima Company Memorial, set up in Barnesville Middle School through the weekend in support of fallen soldiers. Bailey Newsom hopes to become a Marine and work on bomb detection with a K-9 unit.

Stories of tragedy and heroism were brought to life when the Eyes of Freedom Lima Company Memorial visited the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival.

The tribute, erected inside Barnesville Middle School through much of last week, features portraits and stories of 23 fallen Marines.

“We travel the country honoring our veterans and their families,” Mike Strahle, executive director of the Eyes of Freedom and a past member of the company, said.

“They’re all from Lima Company, which is a Marine unit out of Columbus, Ohio, and we lost all these men in Iraq in 2005,” Strahle said. “We make their image and their story and their legacy kind of honor all of our veterans.”

He said this was the exhibit’s first visit to Barnesville.

“The closest we’ve been to this area is St. Clairsville, and we did that seven years ago, and that was a really quick one-day event,” Strahle said. “We’ve been blown away by the reception here in Barnesville. Starting with our escort arrival on Wednesday night in the rain, we still had a lot of people from town outside welcoming us. A lot of the police and fire departments was involved from local communities here.

“It’s been a busy place. We didn’t open until noon (on Friday) and we had people here at 11 a.m.,” he added. “A lot of veterans have been through. A lot of townspeople have been very appreciative of the tribute.”

He and other staff members answered questions and provided information. Strahle commended Anita Miller, Columbus artist who painted the portraits.

In addition, a sculpture was set up in the center of the tribute to raise awareness of veteran suicide prevention and post traumatic stress issues.

Guests looked over the exhibits, heard stories and asked questions.

“It’s sad that they lost their lives, but it’s awesome what they’ve done,” Michael Newsom of Barnesville said.

The Pumpkin Festival concluded on Sunday.


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