photo by Lonnie Timmons III, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square reopened Saturday morning, in a patriotic ceremony with songs from the Singing Angels, a flag ceremony by Civil War reenactors, and remarks from dignitaries who recalled the contribution of Ohio’s volunteers in the war that began in 1861.

Linda and Bill Krahl of Mayfield were among the 150 or so people drawn to the festivities.

“We are Civil War historians, and we’ve gone to many of the battlefields,” said Linda, whose great-great-grandfather David Houser fought for the 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and “marched with Gen. Sherman to the sea.”

Her husband added, “We’ve always felt this is one of the best examples of statuary anywhere.”

Cleveland’s 116-year-old Civil War memorial made its post-restoration debut after two years and $2 million of work that brought back the original hues of the museum’s interior, including its contrasting rose and ivory marble columns and stained-glass windows.

Bob Dasher of Highland Heights was the restoration artist responsible for the colorization. Peter Billington of Cleveland Heights did the stained glass.

New lighting illuminates the refreshed features inside, including bronze relief sculptures of Civil War scenes.

The restoration makes it easier to read the interior’s etched-in-marble names, listing the 9,000 Cuyahoga County residents who served the Union.

Janet Waffler of North Ridgeville and her friend Sandra Kaye of Garfield Heights are reenactors. Both were dressed in authentic reproduction gowns, complete with hoop skirts. (No synthetic fibers; only cotton, linen, silk or wool allowed.)

Waffler said, “I was here a year ago, and you couldn’t read the names. Now it’s easy to see them.”

The gardens surrounding the monument also have been reconstructed.

The Soldiers and Sailors monument, which opened in 1894, was designed by prominent Cleveland sculptor-architect Levi Scofield, who worked on it for 7-1/2 years.

Among those on the exterior stage for Saturday’s ceremony were keynote speaker Gov. Ted Strickland, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman.

Strickland gave a synopsis of what happened in the Ohio Legislature on April 12, 1861, when a state senator interrupted the Senate’s leader to say, “Mr. President, the telegraph announces that the secessionists are bombarding Fort Sumter.”

The Civil War had begun. President Abraham Lincoln asked for 13,000 volunteers from Ohio. Instead, 30,000 came forward. By the end of 1864, more than 300,000 Ohioans had served.

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Story Compliments Of The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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