Veteran honors the fallen

Al Oberst, a World War II veteran, discusses restoration of the plaques with Kara Hamley O'Donnell, historic preservation planner for the City of Cleveland Heights. Photo by Max Embrescia.

Veteran’s Day is Nov. 11. Some spend the holiday relaxing, while others mark the day by honoring the people who fought for our country. Cleveland Heights resident Al Oberst is one of those who puts his heart and soul into honoring our nation’s fallen heroes.  

Oberst is a veteran. He has taken it upon himself to restore the World War I memorial plaques along North Park Boulevard. The memorial, known as Liberty Row, is a nine-mile string of white oaks that run from Gordon Park, in Cleveland, to Warrensville Center Road, in Shaker Heights. The oaks—each shading a bronze plaque engraved with the name of a soldier who died in World War I—were planted beginning in 1918. Over the years, many of the oaks perished and the plaques deteriorated or were vandalized. (Learn more at

For 40 years, Oberst has worked to restore the plaques in an honorable fashion. He researches each soldier’s family in hopes of finding descendents. Last year, the City of Cleveland Heights donated trees to shade three restored plaques. One day, Oberst hopes to fully restore all of the more than 800 plaques.

On Nov. 8, Oberst placed a restored plaque in honor of Leo Kramer on the corner North Park Boulevard and Woodmere Drive. He hopes that the City of Cleveland Heights will plant another tree to shade the plaque.

“This Friday it is important to remember those that have fallen and are still fighting for our freedom, said Oberst. “The most important thing is to remember the vets.”

See videos of the Nov. 8 restoration here: Al Oberst Restoration, Al Oberst Restoration

Max Embrescia

Maxwell Embrescia is a nonprofit administration student at Cleveland State University and a FutureHeights intern.

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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 12:31 PM, 11.08.2011