NEWS | Oct. 11, 2018

President Hayes honored during wreath-laying ceremony

By Zachary Mott 88th Readiness Division

As clouds blocked out the surrounding town, Spiegel Grove hosted its annual celebration to the former president buried there, October 7, nestled among the trees that fill the property.

Rutherford B. Hayes served as the 19th president and, along with his wife Lucy, is buried on the family grounds in this northwest Ohio town. Each year, surrounding the anniversary of his birth, Hayes is honored with a wreath presented on behalf of the current president of the United States during a ceremony hosted by the Hayes Presidential Library and Museum.

This year, that wreath was placed by Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Reinert, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 88th Readiness Division. In addition to laying the wreath, Reinert also spoke about the life and legacy of Hayes.

“President Hayes dedicated the bulk of his 70 years to public service,” he said. “His legacy as a Soldier is well documented. He was a confident leader with the ability to inspire his men by example.”

That legacy of service began during the Civil War, when Hayes, an attorney by trade, joined the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served throughout the war and rose to the rank of brevet major general. During the final year of the war, and after having survived numerous battle wounds, Hayes was elected and served as a congressman from Ohio in 1865.

Hayes then went on to serve as governor of Ohio from 1868 to 1872 and again from 1875 to his election as president in 1876. 

As president, Hayes took over a country he called, “divided and distracted and every interest depressed.” Through his one term in office, he worked to address this as well as many other issues facing the nation in the final throes of Reconstruction. 

“Throughout his years of war, political service and presidency, Hayes remained honest, optimistic, and decisive,” Reinert said. “He knew the power of compromise and worked tirelessly for fairness and equality for all of our country’s citizens.”

In his fourth annual address to the nation, Hayes said, “It is the desire of the good people of the whole country that sectionalism as a factor in our politics should disappear. They prefer that no section of the country should be united in solid opposition to any other section.”

That sentiment best exemplifies Hayes’ legacy of service. Whether it was as a Soldier, a congressman, an attorney or president, Hayes worked to ensure he represented all people in all ways.

“Hayes not only left a tangible legacy of written words, artifacts and monuments; he left a true and lasting legacy to humanity by serving a cause greater than his own.” Reinert said.

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