“Now, in conclusion, I want to supplement my suggestion of a monument by a proposition. If you will build the stone part, I will buy for you a handsome bronze figure to put on it.” June 1, 1897 Middletown Signal, Middletown, Ohio
Congressman Paul J. Sorg’s Speech at Woodside Cemetery on Decoration Day, 1897
“To my mind this occasion brings into harmony a cluster of happy proprieties. Decoration day, that sacred season when a nation’s heart wells up with gratitude and sorrow, is always a beautiful function, but this year with us I think it marks an occasion of more than usual significance. It doubly attests the reverence we have for our honored dead.
When I learned, while in Washington, that the government would have some cannon to distribute, I was determined that our boy’s last resting place should be marked by the prettiest to be had, and I take some pride in saying that Middletown’s quote was the first supplied after the passage of the act making the cannon available. I now have the pleasure of presenting them to the G.A.R. posts of the city.
They no longer raise their horrid voices for the union and freedom! No longer do they wear the black scowl of rage! No longer do their grimy faces thrill the soldier with assurances of victory! But they are welcome as in the days of their usefulness.
The placing of these cannon, while intended to perpetuate the glories of our soldiers, will also stand as monuments to the gratitude and reverence of this generation. The bravery of our boys has been inscrolled on the tablet of history by their life’s blood, and while we may commemorate, on each Decoration Day their unselfish devotion to the flag and country, neither this nor monuments are necessary to impress upon the coming generations the debt owed to the brave boys of ’81 and ’85.
On the part of the government I place these cannons in your charge. Let not your thoughts run to the windows and orphans they have made. Do not think of the lover’s hearts they have torn and tried. Do not think of the mothers they have robbed or the wife whose prayer that the father of her children be returned was not answered. Think of them as the cause of the glorious union and freedom we now enjoy.
Two years ago I suggested on Decoration Day, the propriety of having erected on this lot a monument in memory of the soldiers of Lemon Township. I stated my belief at the time that the school children by meager individual contributions would raise a nice proportion fo the total cost. I am told today that the little ones, God bless them, have now a fund in hand for this purpose amounting to over $200. Don’t the “old children,” if you will allow the term, feel a little peculiar by reason of the way the little ones have surpassed them in this patriotic movement? I think now that it should be the part of every citizen of Middletown to aid in the erection of this monument. With our population of 12,000 , a per capita contribution of twenty five cents would give a fund ample to build the shaft proper. In the Confederate cemetery at Richmond stands a monument built of the boulders taken from the surrounding county. To my mind the course with us should be the erection of one like this constructed from the boulder of Lemon Township. I am quite assured in my mind that the farmers, always loyal in such a movement, will haul us the greater part of them without cost.
Now, in conclusion, I want to supplement my suggestion of a monument y a proposition. If you will build the stone part, I will buy for you a handsome bronze figure to put on it.”
June 1, 1897 Middletown Signal, Middletown, Ohio