Park rededicated to honor veterans

NILES — Veterans from all over Trumbull County gathered Friday at Veterans Memorial Park, formerly known as Circle Street Park, for the 10th annual POW/MIA Recognition Day.

“Every war we’ve fought overseas, we’ve had men and women who have not returned. They’ve been missing in action or prisoners of war,” said Robert Cover, a Desert Storm-era veteran. “Recognition day is to let everyone know that we still have that going on.”

The recognition day is held nationwide every year on the third Friday of September, said Robert Marino Sr., a Vietnam-era veteran.

Veterans sit in a cage made out of bamboo out of respect and honor for veterans that had to live in them during Vietnam, Marino said.

“They have a 24-hour vigil honoring POW’s, MIA’s,” Marino said. “What we do is we have the cage here and we take turns sitting in the cage for an hour at a time. The cage is always occupied with somebody in it out of respect for the guys that were POW’s and lived in those things.”

During the invocation, Vincent Richardson, a Vietnam veteran, told those in attendance to honor the veterans they know because while some may have lost a limb or their hearing, there were those who lost everything.

“We might have lost other things, but the biggest thing is the MIA’s have never been located and if they are, all it is is body parts. KIA’s will never return to you and the POW’s, who knows whether they’re all free or not,” Richardson said.

During the event, the memorial park was rededicated as the Veterans Memorial Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new wall that reads “In memory of those who served.”

The park is known as the Circle Street Park, but veterans wanted to “re-emphasize that it is memorial park and it’s a memorial honoring all people that serve our country,” Marino said.

“It is a small reminder and tribute to those who are currently sacrificing on our behalf and it serves as a future vision for the community to take the time out and reflect on the price of freedom and the rights we can easily take for granted,” said Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz.

Beth Nolen of Weathersfield helped with getting the wall at the park replaced.

“My brother came to us last year and asked us if we could maybe get the wall fixed because it was kind of cracked,” Nolen said. “We presented it to council and the park board. We got the ball rolling.”

Within a week of getting approved, organizers were able to get donations and the bricks to make the new wall.

“Without veterans, we wouldn’t have our freedom today,” Marino said.