History of the Cuyahoga County soldiers' and sailors' monument, Ohio

The Memorial structure to perpetuate the memory of the Union Soldiers and Sailors of Cuyahoga County is now a reality. It is also and equally a Monument to the patriotic citizens who were obliged to remain at home, and made great sacrifices to furnish the ways and means and moral support, without which the War could not have been sustained nor the country saved. It is a Monument to patriotism at home and in the field. It is an object lesson of vast importance in nationality, personal courage, and sacrifice, for coming generations of American youth. It will speak to the unborn millions who will not have seen one of the participants of the War it commemorates, and who will people this goodly land, of the noble work done by their patriotic ancestors when the Republic in its infancy was in great danger. The child will ask the meaning of the Monument, and will be told the story of Lincoln and Grant, of Sherman and vSheridan, of Meade and Thomas, of Hancock and Custer, of Farragut and Porter, of Hayes and Garfield, and of the brave men who followed and fought with them for their country and its liberties. This is the lesson of the Monument, and fully justifies its erection by the patriotic people of Cuyahoga Count}' to whom it belongs.

If at times we have faltered in our fifteen years of wearisome work because of great obstacles which obstructed our way, after all it must be remembered that it has always been so with work of this kind. It may be said that while no people have higher appreciation and respect for important national events and for pure and noble manhood than the Americans, no people on the face of the earth are so backward in building monuments of the character of ours. They are proud and delighted with them when finished, but very slow in their construction.

Monuments can neither add to reputation nor insure immortality. Good works alone have immunity from death and forgetfulness. Right action, noble deeds, heroic conduct are immortal without monuments made by human hands. Words and names alone, though cut in stone and engraved in bronze, mean nothing if they tell not the story of "well done, good and faithful servants." Lincoln said in his immortal speech at Gettysburg: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it will never forget what these Soldiers did here." The many monuments on the battlefield of Gettysburg add nothing to the fame of the men who died there for their country. They only tell where, when, and why they died. The magnificent Cleveland Monument, so laboriously and patiently constructed, rescues nobody personally from obscurity nor ultimately from that oblivion which surely awaits the builders and all those whose names are inscribed on its walls. It is only a record of their deeds.


"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave.

Await alike the inevitable hour.

The path of glory leads but to the grave."


Incidental to the accomplishment of our undertaking, it became necessary to engage in a few legal battles to carry our mission to success. When we were ready to commence the construction of the Memorial, we were compelled to meet our Bull Run in the lower Courts. After a brief rest, and the re-forming of our lines, a test of strength and authority before the Supreme Court of the State brought about our Gettysburg. A final appeal to the United vStates Court resulted in the complete and unconditional surrender of our opponents. Appomattox had been fought and won.

The Memorial is strikingly original in its character and design. It is not alone a Monument to the valor and heroism of the gallant Union Soldiers and Sailors of our County and to the noble services of the Women's Aid Society of Northern Ohio, but it is a National Memorial of the War of the Rebellion as well. Every feature in it is strictly American, and vividly portrays the scenes and incidents of the most destructive conflict of ancient and modern times. It is highly creditable to the genius and brilliant skill of the Architect and Sculptor, who gave his time and splendid ability during the entire accomplishment of the work without any reward except the appreciation of the Commission and the gratitude of his comrades and fellow-citizens.

The superb Memorial was appropriately dedicated on the anniversary of the Nation's Independence July 4th, 1894. Most impressive exercises marked this crowning event. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out in gala attire to honor the occasion. The day was made memorable by scholarly addresses from America's most noted statesmen and orators; by patriotic songs rendered by the future patriots and citizens of our Republic the children of our public schools; by the prayer and benediction of noted divines, and by the spirited rendition of intensely patriotic poetry. Amidst the reading of the immortal Declaration of Independence, the booming of cannon, under a canopy of myriads of the glorious flag of freedom, in the presence of thousands of the brave survivors of the Civil War bearing their battle-scarred flags, together with the finest procession of citizen soldiers, civic .societies, trade and manufacturing representations, with our lovely city lavishly decorated as never before in its history, that, all combined, made up the most notable demonstration ever held in the great State of Ohio, the handsomest tribute to patriotism in the world was formally turned over to the free use, benefit and admiration of present and future generations.

Now that the people may freely view the exquisite Memorial in all its historic accuracy and architectural grandeur, the slight temporary opposition to the structure and its unrivaled site has happily ceased. The peerless work of the Designer and of the Commission meets with the unqualified and hearty approval of all of our citizens, as attested by the earnest words of sincere commendation heard upon every side from the thousands who daily visit the Memorial our own people as well as strangers to admire its manifold beauties: the interior and exterior, the lovely surroundings all true to the events and time it commemorates.

Notwithstanding all that the Commission have had to contend with, we console ourselves with the pleasing reflection that others have had similar difficulties, without our corresponding triumph. We have been remarkably fortunate in successfully finishing the loving work committed to our care within our lifetime, and by the same men who originated the enterprise.

We are glad to be able to say that our task is completed. With gratitude and thanks to God for life and success, we gladly surrender to those who come after us the trust we have tried faithfully to carry out, conscious of having discharged our stewardship to the best of our ability. To our successors in office we say, guard sacredly this grand and beautiful Memorial, which has been to us a work of love and patriotism.

 

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In the War of the Revolution, Ohio was unknown, being then but a wilderness of forest, uninhabited by civilized man. A generation later there existed the pioneer settler and patriotic white man, who served in the defense of the Nation in the second war with England and shared in the triumphs of Lundy's Lane and the Naval victory of Lake Erie. Thirty-three years later the sons of the Buckeye State bore a conspicuous part in the gallant victories of the Mexican War. But fifteen years after that memorable event it was reserved to the patriot Soldiers of Ohio, in common with all others of the Northern States, to participate in the mighty struggle for the preservation of the Union, in the fiercest and most sanguinary Civil War known in the history of the world. The grateful memory of the people everywhere has prompted the erection of enduring monuments and engraved tablets that shall tell the marvelous story and perpetuate the name and fame of the deserving soldier and the heroic dead.