November 11th, Armistice Day and Veteran's Day share a most interesting history. In its simplest form Armistice Day signaled the end of WWI on November 11, 1918 and one year later in 1919 marked the anniversary of the conclusion of the 'war to end all wars." Its goal was to pay tribute to the veterans both living and deceased. It became a recognized date annually beginning in 1926. In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veteran's Day and the scope of the day increased in importance. The years 1968-1975 even saw the official date of recognition change to the fourth Monday in October before President Ford changed it back to its historical date of November 11th. Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the day / event. With over 21 million veterans in our country, it got me to thinking of how to link the living and the dead as we pay tribute to all those who served. In 2014 my Uncle Mike (Borrelli) passed away in May. He was a US Navy veteran who served in the Pacific Theater in WWII. My dad was called to duty during the Korean Conflict. Another cousin served in the US Air Force. My wife's uncle Dick Snoots served in the Army and was in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Two volunteer woodworkers who assist me Lew Ballard and Mike Bodnar are Vietnam Veterans. A teaching colleague has a son who served in Iraq and is still active. Another group of soldiers were sponsored by our volunteer historical society some years ago. Sadly many of those we adopted were killed. How can we pay tribute to all these veterans tomorrow and on any day? Here is one way that is a little off the beaten trail. Visit a local cemetery in Lake County. Cemetery history basically began in 1831 when the first known cemetery opened. It was Mount Auburn and was located in Massachusetts. At first most final resting places were rurally located. This morphed into memorial parks in the early 19th century and an entrance gate denoted the gateway from the living to the dead. Military cemeteries number around 200 and had their genesis in 1862, yet the vast majority of veterans are buried in private or community cemeteries. I challenge you to visit these parks without a crowd. Wander the sections and look for the names of those who served. I know the next time I visit my dad's grave or my Uncle Mike's I will look at the names nearby. I am certain many veterans will be on the cemetery doles.
Here is just a brief look at some of the county cemetery histories I have learned of. Evergreen Cemetery in Painesville was founded in 1850. Thirteen Revolutionary War Veterans including Abraham Skinner are buried there. Samuel Huntington, a Supreme Court Justice, our third State Governor and Army paymaster resides there. Civil War veterans Elezer Paine and Jack Casement are there. Charles Eledge and Medal of Honor winner Howell Burr Treat both men of color are Civil War veterans found in Evergreen.
Historic North Cemetery in Kirtland dates back to 1828 and Revolutionary War veteran William Cahoon may be found there. South Kirtland Cemetery has a marker dating back to 1812 in its acreage. Wickliffe cemetery has markers going back to 1808 and has a north slope dedicated to Civil
War veterans. Likewise the Perry Cemetery dating back to 1860 features a vault with the name of 12 Civil War Veterans and two Revolutionary War soldiers, one of whom Ezra Beebe was the first resident.
Madison / Fairview Cemetery began in 1854 but has stones of possible veterans dating back to 1816. The Willoughby Cemetery on Sharp Avenue claims 95 Civil War Veterans on their official records. The Fairport Harbor War Memorial lists Vietnam Veteran Budd Hodd, Korean Conflict Veterans Amen P. Otto and Mervin Norris in addition to 22 WWII and 4 WWI veterans. The Willoughby Hills Som Center Cemetery dates back to 1840 but has markers as early as 1832 honoring veterans.
While Memorial Day in May pays tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, tomorrow Veterans Day is a day to say 'thank-you' to the living veterans or maybe a day to take a walk in our memorial parks and remember those who reside now in our gardens of stone.