Honoring a presidential legacy

By Zachary Mott | 88th Readiness Division | Nov. 21, 2017

CLEVELAND — James Abram Garfield was only president for 200 days in the post-Civil War United States, however, he left behind a life filled with service that was honored during a ceremony at his Cleveland memorial Nov. 18 which coincides with what would have been his 186th birthday.

“We remember what an extraordinary man President Garfield was and his service to education, the military and our country, all of which are showcased in this memorial,” said Mark Druckenbrod, the president of the Lake View Cemetery Foundation, the cemetery where Garfield’s all public-funded memorial sits.

During the hourlong ceremony, members of the Lake View Cemetery Foundation spoke about the former president and there was vocal performance by Cleveland Opera Theater.

To conclude the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Tony L. Wright, the deputy commanding general for the newly renamed 88th Readiness Division, and Tim Garfield, the great, great-grandson of the former president, presented a wreath on behalf of President Donald J. Trump and placed at the foot of a life-sized granite statue of the 20th president. Following that, Sgt. Luke Washburn from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 338th Army Band performed Taps.

Wright, who also spoke during the ceremony, discussed the life and accomplishments of Garfield from his childhood in northeast Ohio, to his educational accomplishments and leadership at Hiram College followed by his service as a state senator. Garfield also served during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major general before he returned to his political career.

“His character was forged from lessons learned growing up in modest circumstances on an Ohio Farm,” Wright said. “James Garfield was a self-made man, a teacher, a congressman, a Soldier, a college president, a successful lawyer, a preacher, and a compelling orator. But our nation had only a short time to benefit from his tremendous abilities, intellect and aspirations as President of the United States.”

Garfield was shot in a Washington, D.C., train station as he waited to depart on a 4th of July holiday vacation with his family. He died 80 days later after an infection filled his body and caused his death.

“Let us always remember President Garfield through his work - and his words,” Wright said. “I am privileged to place this wreath in honor of a life lived strong – and true, a life well lived.”