The program is in conjunction with Ohio's 14 American Legion districts.
The display will feature 294 10-foot tribute poles with an American flag and yellow ribbons. Each pole will have a veteran's organization and the city's name on them. There will also be 10-foot poles, each with a flag and a black ribbon. Each pole is individually printed with the name, rank and branch of service of all Ohioans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At each place the display stops, there will be a ceremony with guest speakers. Before the program starts, family members of all fallen Ohio soldiers will have a private time to reflect on their loved ones.
Development Chairman Andy Leavitt said the host sites become hallowed ground.
“It's a spiritual healing place for the families,” he said. “And it's a time to forgive their sons for the sacrifice they made.”
Leavitt said the memorial is also a place where people can thank the dead for their service.
Leavitt said he expects 300 to 500 people to visit Tracy Park each day.
The memorial will also visit Adams, Lawrence and Pike counties in February. It will be in Jackson County in March.
“None of our board members had ever done something like this before,” Leavitt said. “So we just give it to the local people to handle.”
City workers and the Boy Scouts will erect the flag poles when the memorial arrives at Tracy Park.
Ohio residents Gino and Lisa Zimmer began the flag program in 2004 after their son, Nick, was killed in Kufa, Iraq.
It was originally called Operation Iraqi Freedom Chopper Fund after the support offered by veterans' motorcycle clubs.
But when a Marine group from Lima returned from Iraq in September after suffering heavy losses, an American Legion post built an “avenue of flags” at Rickenbacker Field in Columbus.
Wheelersburg resident James Howard was a member of the Lima company. He received the Purple Heart award from Vice President Dick Cheney for wounds he suffered in Iraq.
Portsmouth will mark the Ohio Flags of Honor's third stop on a 29-city stop this year. The tour will conclude on Veteran's Day in Columbus.