North Park Boulevard between Coventry Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is popular with commuters heading into Cleveland. There are no stoplights on this stretch of road, allowing drivers to quickly get to the hill that descends from the Heights down into University Circle. Even at 35 mph, it’s easy to notice the tall oak trees that line the south side of North Park Boulevard. To see the nearly 100-year-old pieces of history that lie at the base of a number of these trees, however, one must exit the car and take a closer look to find the cement stones with little bronze plates, each bearing an individual man’s name. Who are these men, and why are they being honored on the side of a busy road in Cleveland Heights?
Following the armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, American Legion posts, garden clubs, schoolchildren, communities and families around the country planted trees to honor fallen soldiers.
In an August 1918 issue of American Forestry, editor Percival Sheldon Ridsdale praised the concept of “trees for the dead,” stating that the fallen soldiers “are to have living monuments.