When the leaves fall and the footballs fly in September, Nick Rozanski’s friends and family will gather, as always, to watch their beloved Buckeyes.
They’ll recall Saturdays of seasons past, wins and losses, but mostly the times shared. They’ll remember Rozanski, an Ohio National Guard captain from Dublin who was killed on April 4 while on duty in northern Afghanistan.
And as Ohio State fans roll into Columbus, they’ll also think about Rozanski, a fellow football fanatic most of them never met but whom they probably would have liked. After likely approval from the Ohio Senate and Gov. John Kasich, the name of the man who also served in Kosovo and Iraq will be attached to a stretch of Route?315, an area he often drove as a student and proud alumnus.
More than 70 Ohioans killed in the line of duty during the past decade in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been honored in similar ways since 2007. Unlike the bronze-and-granite monuments to past wars’ heroes, the growing number of memorial highway designations serve as a tribute to the fallen in the places they lived, traveled and enjoyed.
Since the first designation, highways in 35 of 88 Ohio counties have been given memorial designations. Among them are stretches of I-71, I-76 and I-77 in northeastern Ohio; I-480 in Cleveland; and I-275 in Cincinnati.
Lawmakers gather their requests into one bill, and the Ohio Department of Transportation erects signs after passage. More than 30 will be added to the list in coming months if the pending bill wins final approval. More than 270 Ohio natives and residents have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.