Traveling Memorial Honors Fallen Members of Lima Company
By Stephanie Beougher - February 7, 2014
This year will mark the ninth anniversary of the tragic loss of 23 members of the Ohio-based Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment who died in service to their country while deployed in Iraq.
The Lima Company Memorial "The Eyes of Freedom" was created in memory of the fallen Marines and a Navy Corpsman. Traveling the state and the country - the memorial is currently on display in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda.
"It's therapeutic for people like myself to come here," said Former Lima Company member Gerald Norris, who is now a security officer for the Supreme Court of Ohio. "At first it was a very difficult thing to come here because it's so lifelike. I see these men and it just brings all the emotions back. But now it's easier. I can actually look at the men here and it brings back memories, good memories."
The first painting that draws Norris in is that of his high school classmate and close friend, Andre Williams.
"He was always joking around; always had a big smile, a really big smile. It's funny because in this painting he doesn't, which is one of the few times because he was one of those guys that no matter how bad it was - it wasn't that bad," Norris reminisced.
Another former member of Lima Company, Mike Strahle, is now the director of the memorial's non-profit organization. He says the paintings have become more than just a symbol of the sacrifice of one military unit.
"We travel the entire country with the mission of reaching veterans and helping them with closure, to heal a little bit, may be just a time to remember the military - remember their service. Either way, it always leaves them better than when they walked in," Strahle said.
The memorial will be on display in the Rotunda through February 14.