Ohio woman honors Marine brother, first responders on 9/11 with flag tribute
About 300 U.S. flags that were posted along sidewalks in dozens of front yards are expected to fly throughout the weekend
By Steven M. Grazier
The Repository, Canton, Ohio
PERRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Ashley Escola has put an idea years in the making into action that honors her brother, first responders, U.S. military members and veterans.
She and her neighbors have posted approximately 300 U.S. flags along sidewalks in dozens of front yards at Bishop Meadows subdivision in the area of Genoa Avenue and Nave Street SW. The flags were provided by Operation: Flags of Freedom and are expected to fly through this weekend.
Escola spearheaded the effort while harboring emotional thoughts of her brother, U.S. Marine Sgt. Tyson Snyder, who died at age 32 in a civilian helicopter crash in January 2018 near Toledo. She encouraged neighbors to help post U.S. flags in their yards as a "thank you" to all service members, police officers and firefighters.
Posting the flags during the week of 9/11 made perfect sense, said Escola, noting that her brother made the decision to join the Marines right after Sept. 11, 2001.
"I decided I would try my best to honor my brother, the way he honored our country with his (military) service," Escola said. "Freedom is not free, and I learned that as a sister."
Snyder served as a U.S. Marine from 2005 to about 2013. The 2004 Wooster High School graduate served in both the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts.
Escola, whose husband, Josh, is a Jackson Township police officer, noted that Bishop Meadows is home to numerous law enforcement officers and military veterans.
"These flags are a way to show our (neighborhood's) respect (for those in uniform), and get to know each other better," she explained. "It got us outside, too, during the COVID (pandemic)."
Sparking an idea
In 2018, when she was leaving a Wooster funeral home after a service for her brother, Escola noticed dozens of military veterans standing along city streets next to numerous U.S. flags. They stood there saluting the hearse that was transporting her brother's body to the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.
She recalled being in awe and moved by the scene of patriotism and love of country.
"I saw all the people and those flags, and wanted to bring that to my community," she said. "We all jumped in as one and pitched in."
Escola's neighbors Jami and Dan Paul assisted in placing the flags around their residence, as well as other homes.
"It was a great idea for our neighborhood, and shows positive support for our country," Jami Paul said.
The posting of flags in Bishop Meadows during the week of 9/11 is likely to become routine, Escola said.
"We're hoping to extend it into other neighborhoods and throughout Stark County," she said.
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