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Highway memorials in Ohio honor fallen troops

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

CINCINNATI — A red-haired boy and his little cousin tugged on either side of the sheet in unison, pulling it down to uncover a new highway sign.

As people clapped, the boy grinned and waved, drawing more applause. He waved again, to the delight of the overflow crowd in the Miami Township Community Center.

“He's a ham,” said Chrystina Kreuter, smiling at her 7-year-old son, Christian. “Just like his dad.”

The Sgt. David Kreuter Memorial Highway on a stretch of state Route 264 running through his home township west of Cincinnati honors the father that Christian never got the chance to know. David was among 14 Marines — most of them in the Columbus-based Lima Company — killed Aug. 3, 2005, by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Christian had been born less than two months earlier; David saw him only in photos and heard his infant son breathing over the phone before his death at 26.

“I think this lets Christian get to be involved and relate to his dad in a way he was never able to,” Kreuter's widow said during the April 27 dedication ceremonies.

Such roadway reminders of Ohio's fallen troops are becoming increasingly popular as memorial tributes. Nearly 150 have been approved by legislators in the past five years, with the number topping 50 last year alone.

“I think it's critical to do these things,” said state Rep. Louis Terhar, R-Cincinnati, who promoted the Kreuter highway bill. “One, they draw the community together after a loss. And it reinforces for people that we enjoy something that someone else has paid a high price for.”

Marine Corps Capt. Eric Flanagan said that he wasn't sure how common the practice is elsewhere but that such dedications of highways, bridges and other everyday structures are tributes that augment annual Memorial Day observances.

“Giving one's life in defense of the country, whether at home or abroad, deserves to be remembered,” Flanagan said.

“We hope that as people pass those signs, it causes them to think a little bit about those who left this country to protect our freedoms,” Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller said during March 29 sign dedications in Butler County for Army Cpl. Nicholas Olivas and Staff Sgt. Robert Massarelli. They died last year in Afghanistan.

Slain law enforcement officers have been honored with highway signs. A May 10 ceremony will dedicate the Sgt. Brian Dulle Memorial Highway on U.S. 42 between Lebanon and Waynesville in southwest Ohio. Dulle, an Army veteran, was a Warren County sheriff's deputy killed in 2011 while trying to stop a fleeing driver in a high-speed chase.

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