November 19, 2016 –
CLEVELAND (November 19, 2016) – On what would have been his 185th birthday, family members, Soldiers, Boy Scouts and people from the surrounding communities gathered to celebrate the life and service of James A. Garfield at his memorial in northeast Ohio, November 19.
Garfield was elected the 20th President of the United States in the 1880 election. However, an assassin’s bullet ended his presidency six months after it began.
“Garfield’s presidency is remembered as one of honesty and character,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Strand, deputy commanding general of the 88th Regional Support Command who served as the representative for President Barack Obama during the ceremony. “He believed government should be true and good.”
Although his presidency was short, Garfield’s service to this nation was full and his legacy remains to this day.
He began his adult life in pursuit of education. Attaining his degree in two years from Williams College in Massachusetts. He then returned to his native Ohio and became a professor at Hiram College. Two years later, he was named president of Hiram.
At age 28, Garfield began his civil service career by earning a spot in the Ohio state senate in 1859. He left that position in 1861 to serve the Union Army during the Civil War where he rose to the rank of major general.
However, Garfield was again called to civil service when he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1863.
He was hesitant to leave his post with Ohio’s 42nd Regiment, but he was convinced that by serving as a member of Congress he could have a greater impact on the war than he did on the battlefields.
“Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen,” Garfield said during his inaugural address in 1881.
Following another successful election in 1880 when Garfield was selected to represent Ohio’s 19th Congressional District for a tenth term, he was also the Republican nominee for president.
His nomination came after a contentious process that took 36 rounds of voting before Garfield – who was not even a campaigning candidate – was selected to represent his party against Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock.
During the ceremony honoring Garfield, Strand and Tim Garfield, the great-great grandson of the former president, along with other surviving members of the Garfield family placed a wreath beside the marble statue that is the centerpiece of the main floor of the James A. Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.