PARMA HTS. - Each flag pole has the name of a loved one who chose to serve and paid the ultimate price...
A name on every single pole.
Names like Andy Nowacki. Josh Harmon. Kevin Cornelius.
Just 3 of the many Northeast Ohio families who continue to pay the price.
All of them from Ohio honored this weekend in Parma Heights because one Gold Star family dad set out to make sure we never forget.
One by one they filed through on Friday night.
Gold Star families went first. Carrying American flags in a parade of bittersweet patriotism.
Names on each flag pole that represent entire lives given in the line of duty. Each took just two seconds to read. Collectively they took almost an hour to honor. 295 fallen heroes from Ohio alone.
"I know my son is in a good place. My heart is healed but I still miss him," says Gino Zimmer.
His son, Army Private First Class Nicholaus Zimmer, is a hero.
He died at just 20-years-old in May, 2004 as he was serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
So for 12 years now, Gino has been the man behind the traveling Ohio Flags of Honor exhibit. This weekend, they stand proud in Parma Heights.
"Never forget. Never forget. This is here for Gold Star members as much as it is for veterans who came home," says Zimmer.
"It means a lot because freedom is not free," says Patricia Phillips of Wakeman. She's the Gold Star mom of Army Staff Sgt. James Hunter.
"He stepped on an IED", Phillips says fighting back tears. "It's been 7 years. June 18, 2010."
"Freedom ISN'T free. I didn't realize until I lost my son," says Terri Davis. She's the Gold Star mom of Army Corporal Brad Davis of Garfield Heights. Davis was the gunner in the lead vehicle in Iraq when his mom says "a roadside bomb hit him". He had just turned 21.
2 moms… Same gut-wrenching hole in their hearts.
"We can't let these men and women be forgotten. Then their death was for nothing," says Phillips.
You can pay your respects at the traveling Ohio Flags of Honor exhibit at Greenbriar Commons in Parma Heights through Sunday.
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