By Kristin Rover
A Memorial Day concert was held at the Spirit of ’76 Memorial Gardens and Arboretum May 27 at Miami Meadows Park in Miami Township, and plans for the future of the park were discussed at the event.
Milford resident and Korean War veteran William Knepp, said this is the first time a Memorial Day event has been held at the Spirit of ’76 Memorial, which has been evolving since trustees designated land for the memorial in 2010.
“Miami Township has never had anything in the past,” Knepp said. “I thought it would be nice to have something here and plan to make it an annual event.”
Knepp said the event also serves as a prelude to the dedication of the Korean War Memorial, which they are planning for July.
The Korean War Memorial will feature a monument with information and images from the war. Knepp, along with Robert Sterling and the late R.J. Vilardo, have been working to raise funds for the memorial, as well as other projects in the park, for several years.
The memorial will be located in the park, which includes several other monuments and historical landmarks.
Residents who attended the concert at the Spirit of ’76 Memorial Park took time to remember service men and women and were able to hear music from a 1922 Tangley air calliope as well as music from John Hale of New Richmond, and more.
Mike and Vicky Long, of Mt. Orab, brought the calliope and played it at the event.
Mike Long said he became interested in the instrument after seeing one during a riverboat festival. He said he tracked down the rare instrument and uses it in local parades and during other festivities.
“It was designed in 1922 and built by hand in Iowa in 1996,” Long said. “I put it together as a veterans tribute.”
Long said the instrument can be played automatically or by hand using the keyboard.
“The kids love it and the older folks love it,” Long said.
Long said the instrument can play about 20 minutes worth of music. He played several songs for guests at the concert.
Knepp said he hopes to make the concert an annual event at the park. He said he has worked hard making sure the park will be a place where people can come to remember those who have served and learn about the nation’s history.
“This will be a continued living history,” Knepp said. “We want our kids and other people to know our history.”
Knepp said after the Korean War memorial is complete, they will create a committee and trust fund for future projects at the park. He said the park is veterans of all wars.
He said they are planning to dedicate the Korean War Memorial at 3 p.m. July 27.
For more information about Spirit of ’76 Memorial Gardens and Arboretum, visit www.spiritof76memorial.org.