Smithfield, OH (WTRF)- The legacy of hundreds who risked their lives for our freedoms will never be forgotten.

7 News Reporter Aliah Keller takes us to the dedication of a Memorial Wall that’s stood tall in Jefferson County for 8 years.

“Don’t forget us. We went. We served, and so many of us never came home, so don’t forget us. Remember us.”

Vietnam Veteran Jack Ernest

Vietnam Veteran Jack Ernest isn’t just thinking of the 888 lives inscribed on this wall, but the heroes they are. To him, this is a memorial of his brothers and sisters, leaving him almost at a loss for words.

“It’s hard to describe that.”

Vietnam Veteran Jack Ernest

Ernest feels blessed to be here today, but his life was almost cut short at an early age. He was wounded in battle, almost died twice in Vietnam at just 19.

His life being one of many worth honoring. Others like Ernest were in the crowd of people here for the dedication, including those giving speeches like Congressman Bill Johnson.

Congressman Johnson’s served almost 27 years in the United States Airforce.

“I wouldn’t take a million bucks for a single day of it. The world is a better place because America is standing guard at the gate of freedom.”


And not a day has gone by for the last 8 years, that this wall hasn’t reminded people of just that.

But what the Jefferson County Veterans Association got built 8 years ago quickly grew, as more and more names made the wall.

“Public support was overwhelming that it grew year after year until today.”

Frank Santa, commander of the Jefferson County Veterans Association

Nearly 900 veterans, dating all the way back to the War of 1812 to the present, are on the wall, but at first, Commander of the association Frank Santa only hoped for 80 to 100.

… and every single one of them shouldn’t be forgotten.

“Pay respects to these veterans. We owe everything in this country to the veterans. We hope that the public accepts it and visits it often.”

Frank Santa, commander of the Jefferson County Veterans Association

If you’d like to pay your respects to the Memorial, you can go to Friendship Park in Smithfield.