Jeff Eversman gently placed a brown wreath adorned with a small American flag in front of the Civil War urn on the Civic Center Mall behind the Safety Building on Saturday.
Raising his white-gloved right hand, he saluted the memorial, part of a rededication remembrance ceremony to honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Among the soldiers being remembered were Mr. Eversman's great-great-grandfathers, who served in the war.
On April 9, 1861, a young nation was on the brink of civil war. For the next four years Americans engaged in the bloodiest conflict in the nation's history.
"We don't want to forget what people did in the past," said Mike Payden, a member of Battery H, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, a Civil War re-enactors group. "It's in honor of what they did."
The rededication of the memorial, established in 1930 by the Daughters of the Union Veterans, was to honor veterans of the Civil War, other past wars, and men and women now serving in the military. A rededication ceremony was held in 2003 for the Ohio bicentennial, and the monument was professionally cleaned and a new bronze plaque was attached.
Although the Civil War began on April 12, 1861, "it's not all that long ago," David Chilson, president of the Greater Toledo Civil War Roundtable, said.
Mr. Chilson has been a roundtable member for over 10 years, but his interest was piqued in 1957 during a trip to Gettysburg, Pa., with his parents.
He was 9 years old.
"I was just fascinated," he said.
Later in his life, Mr. Chilson saw a photo that had been taken in 1913 of one of his great-great-grandfathers, a Civil War veteran, holding his father.
The great-great-grandfather died in 1916, and Mr. Chilson said seeing that photo made him realize the Civil War war was more recent than he had realized.
"It's such an important period of time in our nation's history," Mr. Chilson said.
Besides the heavy casualties, the war was important for "the impact it had on the spouses and the children [of the soldiers]" he said.
"Our country emerged a better nation as a result, as bloody and tragic as it was," he said.
During Saturday's ceremony, roundtable treasurer Kathleen Jones, wearing a hand-embroidered sweatshirt depicting three Civil War soldiers headed to battle, described the impact the war had on Toledo and northwest Ohio.
"Newspaper headlines screamed ‘War!' and when it was learned a few days later that Fort Sumter [in South Carolina] had been surrendered, Toledoans were outraged," she said.
"Huge throngs of people filled the streets of the city, and a massive Union meeting was held at the train depot with 3,000 attending. …
"Newspaper accounts described how the city began to take on the appearance of a regular army camp.
"Militia companies gathered to engage in drill and instruction, and a swell of flag-waving excitement swept through the city. Red-white-and blue bunting was in great demand," she added.
More than 1,000 men from Toledo and the area met in the city to join the northwest Ohio regiment before being officially sworn in at Camp Taylor in Cleveland.
"Let's pause to remember those from Toledo and northwest Ohio for making the ultimate sacrifice," Robyn Hage, vice president of the roundtable, said. "And for those still serving today to ensure [our rights]."
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: email@example.com or 419-724-6054.