Columbiana, Ohio - Since 1920 Benjamin Firestone American Legion Post 290 has been organizing the Columbiana Street Fair. Known as the “State Fair of Street Fairs,” this hometown reunion draws tens of thousands from the Mahoning Valley and beyond. For the past three years an extra military presence has been added to make the event an even more attractive destination.
In 2015 the “Eyes of Freedom” Lima Company Memorial was displayed inside the First Presbyterian Church one block from Main Street. Escorted by 200 motorcycles, crowds of patriots lined the streets to welcome the shiny R&L Carriers truck that transports the Columbus-based exhibit around the country. Volunteers set up the eight panels with life-size paintings of 22 U.S. Marines and a Navy Corpsman of the USMC 3/25 Infantry Battalion, all killed in action during a 2005 deployment to Iraq. Fairgoers toured the memorial in grateful reverence.
In 2016 a Super Cobra helicopter from the New Jersey-based Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 landed a short walk from the fair in nearby Firestone Community Park. In 2017 the Super Cobra returned, but this time had some “ground support” as a 6x6 USMC cargo truck and a restored WWII 40mm anti-Aircraft gun joined the LZ. In addition to the military hardware a variety of veterans support groups as well as Toys for Tots set up camp in a nearby pavilion.
Legion organizers and sponsors of this annual event commented that the purpose of the added military presence is to honor our past and present Armed Forces community. It is also their hope that these modern military machines provide a touchstone to post-9/11 veterans that they may use to share a little bit of their deployment experience with their families. Plans to expand the exhibit are in the works for 2018.