Not a person, but a building....
The old National Guard Armory located at 212 East Wooster Street in Bowling Green, Ohio is being razed in the name of progress in order to make way for yet another CVS pharmacy, each of which seems to pop up on the urban landscape faster than the last and stands out like a red boil on the ass of the world....nothing against CVS its just that this burns my buns a bit.
The Armory has stood in that spot for over 100 years, from its doors departed young men to fight in both world wars, Korea and The Global War on Terror as well as numerous other missions of note, such as security at the 1996 Olympics and service in multiple natural disaster responses.
Apparently, that is not worthy of note.
The Toledo Blade ran an article this morning on the story noting that the armory had been used to host classes from nearby Bowling Green State University in its early years and had been host to many "teen dances"....yep, you suck TB....you suck.
Unfortunately these old armories - most built back in the first decade of the 20th century - are all going this way. To be truthful, they have for the most part outlived their usefulness and indeed did what they were intended to do at the time. This particular armory had not been actively used in almost a decade. Today their layout and construction is often not up to code, not handicap friendly and often not friendly either to a generation "fitness and body composition" challenged. They looked cool, like small castles and were designed to present a formidable appearance, being built not too many decades after "the wild west" when sometimes lawlessness came down main street. The armory itself used to stable horses as up until the 30's the cavalry was still a active part of the military. I have been told that in the 20's during prohibition that the basement was used as an informal "speak easy" for unit members during the period.
Perhaps no period of time best defined this building as WW2. Not as much as for what it was used for (recruiting, inductions, draft boards, war drives and the like) but for the men who came here to depart for war...many of which never returned to see it again. This armory housed members of the 148th Infantry regiment of the 37th "Buckeye" Division that saw extensive service in the Pacific theater in the war. Six unit members distinguished themselves by earning the Medal of Honor (along with another from WW1) and countless others earned "lesser" medals to include The Distinguished Service Cross, Silver and Bronze stars and many others. The unit participated in the liberation of the city of Manilla in the Philippines from the Japanese as well as numerous other engagements in now mostly forgotten (to the general low information voter and soundbyte mentality public) battles in places with names like Bougainville, New Georgia and Luzon.
As much as a person, a building or location can instil a sense of camaraderie and friendship with a soldier. I dare any trooper that has been assigned as a paratrooper in the 82nd to step onto Ft Bragg, an armor soldier to visit the Patton Museum or any D-Day vet to visit the graves in Normandy to say different. Look at the vast amount of visitors that the former WTC site got in the 10 years after 9/11. To me this armory was a "hallowed ground" type of place for me. A way for me to link my service at the time to a lineage bigger and more important that anything else I could ever singularly accomplish...
And now its all gone.
Goodbye old friend, you will be missed....
2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)