Of course, as of this writing, COVID-19 is still here with us in Ohio and around the world. But it doesn’t seem like so long ago, that it was at the forefront of our thoughts. People were losing loved ones, businesses and schools were closed and we covered our faces with surgical masks.
Because it is such a fresh memory, Marina and I were surprised a few months ago to find that Ohio already had a memorial in place for those affected by the pandemic. The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove is a section set aside at the Great Seal State Park in Ross County.
Great Seal State Park
The Great Seal State Park is made up of the hills outside of Chillicothe that are featured on our state seal. Thomas Worthington, known as the “Father of Ohio statehood,” hosted an all night meeting at his Chillicothe home, Adena. Edward Tiffin, Ohio’s first governor, and William Creighton, Ohio’s first Secretary of State, were in attendance.
The men watched as the sun rose over Mount Logan, and from this chose these hills as the inspiration for the Ohio state seal. The current Great Seal State Park is comprised of much of the land featured on that seal.
Ohio COVID-19 Memorial
The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove features a sculpture called “After the Storm,” designed by Gallipolis artist and professor at the University of Rio Grade, Kevin Lyles. The sculpture is 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
The sculpture is designed to be nearly maintenance free and features construction of stainless steel and locally sourced glacial rocks. 40 species of native Ohio birds appear to take flight from it’s base.
Dedication by Governor Dewine
In April of 2021, Governor Mike Dewine travelled to the Ross County area for the dedication of the grove. Governor Dewine dedicated the grove to the memory of Ohioans who lost their lives during the pandemic and also to honor those who sacrificed for others, including health care workers and first responders who answered the call.
In addition to the sculpture, trees were planted in memory. Governor Dewine, his wife Fran and the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources planted the first tree. Other trees were planted by COVID-19 survivors, the families of those who died from the virus, healthcare workers, teachers and local school children.
All of the trees planted in the grove were chosen from native Ohio species. The varieties planted were chosen as those that will be hearty for several generations.
If you’re traveling in the southern Ohio area, consider visiting the new COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove. If you’re thinking, it’s just a bit early. You’re not alone. Maybe it’s because COVID is still with us. And I realize, it may always be with us, but I just don’t think we’ve quite settled into this new normal yet.
But, at any rate, the sculpture is beautiful and the intentions are good. It is a beautiful place to honor Ohioans affected by the virus in the early days of the Pandemic.
Thanks for FindingOhio with us today. We love our state and know that there’s so much to do and see here. Check back frequently as we publish a new article at least once a week.
If you’re looking to venture into Ohio’s beautiful state parks, you can check out our articles on Kelleys Island, Hocking Hills and Portage Lakes State Parks. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. Let’s share the beauty of Ohio with everyone!