FREMONT, Ohio (October 3, 2016) – Amid the backdrop of warm Midwestern fall afternoon, a former President of the United States was remembered for his service to the nation with a wreath-laying ceremony October 2.
Rutherford B. Hayes served this country in many ways. He was a Soldier, serving in the Civil War and rising to the rank of brevet major general; a congressman, serving as the Ohio 2nd District representative from 1865 to 1867; a governor, twice serving that post for Ohio from 1868 to 1872 and again from 1876 until his inauguration as president in 1877; and ultimately as president.
While Hayes was president, he presided over the end of Civil War reconstruction and held the office from 1877 to 1881. He died at the age of 70 in 1893 in his home here.
During the ceremony, current and Civil War-era re-enactment Soldiers along with a local congressional representative, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and more than 50 members of the surrounding communities gathered at Spiegel Grove – the site where Hayes and his wife are buried – to pay respects and honor the 19th President of the United States.
“His legacy as a Soldier is well documented,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Strand, deputy commanding general for the 88th Regional Support Command in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. “He was a confident leader with the ability to inspire his men by example.”
After being elected in one of the most contentious elections to date, Hayes hoped to usher in a bi-partisan era where the good of the country was paramount. He was met with strong opposition from both parties, but he was able to accomplish many things during his four-year tenure.
His most famous quote, “he serves his party best who serves his country best,” lends credence to his desire to be a champion for the national well-being.
“Throughout his years of war, political service and presidency, Hayes remained honest, optimistic and decisive,” Strand said. “He knew the power of compromise and worked tirelessly for fairness and equality for all our country’s citizens.”
Bill Reineke, state representative, 88th Ohio House District, also spoke during the ceremony and highlighted Hayes’ love for his family as well.
“We’ve got a very important man buried here,” he said. “The most important thing that I found out about President Hayes is that he is a family man and to see what a difference one man can make.”
That difference continues to this day as more than 300 living descendants attended the 100th anniversary of the Hayes Presidential Library this past summer. The Hayes library was the first presidential library established in the United States.
“(Hayes’) honesty and integrity revived the prestige of the presidential office,” Strand said.