Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring / Summer of History-Civil War 150-Lake County, Ohio- Monuments and Heros

As early as October 1862, a Painesville Telegraph editorial called for a country war memorial because " this terrible rebellion is touching the heart of every household in the land."  In April 1861 when the Civil War began, over 320,000 Ohioans answered President Lincoln's call.  In 1865 when the war had ended, over ten percent of the Ohio men who enlisted never returned home.  Monuments arose in Willoughby's cemetery and Mentor's cemetery.   Painesville's War Monument and those in all other Lake County communities eloquently remind us of the full sacrifice made by our native sons and daughters.  On July 3, 1880 a dedication took place at the Soldiers Monument in Painesville, Ohio.  General James A. Garfield was the dedication speaker.  Below is an excerpt from that speech.

General Garfield began his speech with two questions to the crowd that day.  ' What does the monument mean?' and the other, ' What will the monument teach?'

" Let me put the question to you.  For a moment suppose your country...should stand above you and say, " I want your life.  Come up here on the platform and offer it."  How many would walk up before that majestic presence and say,   " Here I am.  Take this life and use it for your great needs."  And yet almost two millions of men, made that answer and a monument stands yonder to commemorate their answer...

" Now what does it teach? What will it teach?  Why I remember the story of one of the old conquerors of Greece who, when he had traveled his boyhood over the battlefields where Miltiades had won victories and set up trophies returning, said, " These trophies of Miltiades will never let me sleep."...

"And fellow citizens, that silent sentinel, that crowned granite column will look down upon you boys that will walk these streets for generations to come and will not let them sleep when their country calls them.  More than from a bugler on the field, from his dead lips will go out a call that the children of Lake County will hear after the grave has covered us and our immediate children.  That is the the teaching of your monument.

" That is its lesson.  And it is the lesson of endurance for what we believe and it is the lesson of sacrifices for what we think, the lesson of heroism for what we mean to sustain...  General Garfield concluded his speech with the hope that time would heal and bring peace to both sides and preserve the union of the Stars and Stripes forever.  Among the names on Lake County's monuments are the plain soldiers who fought to preserve the Union.  Among the names also are some ( Casement, Babcock, Howe, Jennings, Johnson, Garfield, et al.) who came out of the battle between the states to rise to even greater heights in service to their community and nation.

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