Veterans memorial may be built in front of Silver Lake Village Hall – Akron Beacon Journal


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The anti-aircraft gun displayed outside Silver Lake Village Hall was removed by John and Jeff Drumm in mid-June. It has been moved to an undisclosed location in Portage County. Mayor Bernie Hovey has said he would like to install a veterans memorial in the area where the gun was displayed.

SILVER LAKE — The municipality's leader said he wants to place a veterans memorial in front of village hall in a spot that previously displayed an anti-aircraft gun believed to be from World War II.

Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey has told council he felt "[a memorial] would be a real great addition to the village."

Hovey added that resident John Schluep has offered to chair a committee to lead the effort. Council president Bill Church has said he and his fellow legislators supported the idea and asked the mayor to begin investigating project costs.

Hovey said the village would establish a fund to accept monetary donations for the memorial, similar to what was done for Silver Lake's centennial celebration in 2018. Legislation to set up the donation system is expected to come before council at the Aug. 16 meeting.

The Silver Lake Historical Society and a few other groups have offered to donate money for the project, according to Hovey.

"I think we'll be able to raise the money without a whole lot of trouble," Hovey said. "I think people will jump on this."

The anti-aircraft gun displayed in front of Silver Lake Village Hall was removed and transported to an undisclosed location in Portage County. Mayor Bernie Hovey said he would like to have the village put in a veterans memorial on the site along Kent Road.

Anti-aircraft gun removed from front of village hall

The anti-aircraft military 90mm gun that had been displayed in front of village hall along Kent Road for about 60 years was recently removed at the village's request by a Cuyahoga Falls man who said he is interested in preserving history.

Hovey said he did not think village hall was the proper location for the military weapon.

"It did not seem appropriate to me to have an artillery gun displayed so prominently at village hall, especially now when gun violence appears to be on the rise in our country," Hovey said. "The gun had no historical significance to the village, and there were no objections from either council or others to whom I spoke regarding the removal of the gun."

The mayor explained the village did not want to pay several thousand dollars to remove the gun and tried for a couple of years to sell the artifact, "but found no takers."

Kim Pigman, bookkeeper and administrative secretary for the village, said she spoke with some veterans' organizations that wanted the gun, but all of them had the same problem.

"[They] could not come up with the funds to move it," Pigman said.

Cuyahoga Falls resident John Drumm said he learned about the village trying to remove the gun through people he knew at an area museum. He noted he helped broker a deal to have the gun relocated to that museum, but the arrangement fell through due to a lack of available funds.

This plaque was displayed next to the anti-aircraft gun that was stationed in front of Silver Lake Village Hall for about six decades. The gun was removed in June and taken to an undisclosed location in Portage County.

In mid-June, Drumm said he and his nephew Jeff paid a company to remove the gun and transport it to an undisclosed location in Portage County. He said the crane operator was "excited" about handling such a unique job.

"As he was moving it, he was taking pictures to say, 'look what I moved today.'" Drumm recalled. "He was excited as much as we were to get it out of there."

Drumm added he is working on setting up a display of the gun and said he would soon reveal the location. 

A UPS retiree who has traced his own family history back to the year 580, Drumm said he "grew up in history," and noted it was important to him to ensure that this historical artifact was preserved.

"I do believe it was from World War II," Drumm said.

The anti-aircraft gun displayed in front of Silver Lake Village Hall was removed in June and transported to an undisclosed site in Portage County.

Drumm added he and his nephew are "thrilled" to have the gun at a new site where it will soon be displayed.

He was also given the plaque that had been displayed next to the gun.

The plaque, dated May 30, 1963, states: "This memorial is dedicated to a lasting peace in honor of our men and women who have gallantly served their country in its hour of need."

Pigman said there are no records at village hall of who gave the gun to the village or when it was placed in front of the government building.

Village solicitor Robert Heydorn, who grew up in Silver Lake, said his parents told him a resident named Dr. Harold Hunter had acquired the gun through army surplus and arranged with the village to place it outside of village hall.

Priscilla Drach, who lived in Silver Lake for 68 years and is a past president of the Silver Lake Historical Society, said the plaque date of 1963 is likely when the installation of the gun occurred.

Drach noted her father, Claire, was president of village council when the gun was placed in front of village hall.

"He became aware that there was a gun available and he made sure it got on to the village property," Drach said. "He would've been the one to present it to council."

She added her father had council approve the placement of the gun on village hall land.

"I know that they were all thrilled to get that gun because everybody else had the old Civil War cannons and this was a big change from that," Drach said.

Heydorn noted military displays such as these were common during the years that followed America's victory in World War II.

"We were champions of the world…we were doing everything that we could to remember World War II," Heydorn said.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter at @keren_phil.

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