Ohio Dedicates New Tree Grove to COVID-19 Victims


Ohio officials dedicated a memorial tree grove in honor of victims of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, planting 15 new trees in an Ohio state park.

Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz dedicated the new grove in a ceremony last week. The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe includes 15 newly planted trees around a paved trail. Benches will also eventually be added.

DeWine said he chose the location because of the Great Seal State Park’s connection to the Ohio seal, saying that the rising sun of the seal bring “the dawn of a new day, a fresh beginning, and hope.”

“While no memorial can fully encompass the grief caused by this pandemic, we hope this grove will not only offer some solace to those who lost loved ones but also serve as a reminder of the courage and endurance of all Ohioans during this unprecedented time in our lives,” DeWine said in a statement.

The first tree in the grove was planted by Mertz, Dewine, and Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine. The remaining trees were planted by coronavirus survivors, healthcare workers, first responders, teachers and families of Ohioans killed by the pandemic, among others.

More than 19,000 Ohio residents have been killed by the COVID-19 virus as of Monday, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

The trees in the grove are all native to Ohio and include five white oaks and three redbuds, as well as a swamp white oak, a northern red oak, a chinquapin oak, a hackberry, a sugar maple, a red maple and a flowering dogwoods.

“We will never forget the Ohioans we lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and the void left in communities across our state in which their presence is deeply missed,” Mertz said in a statement.  “This grove is dedicated to the cherished memory of the family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who have passed, where we can all find a place of peace and solace to honor and remember them in our grief.”

Footage of the dedication ceremony can be found here.

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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.

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