It was great to see the Civil War monument in Cherry Grove cemetery finally completed and rededicated this past Memorial Day. It was also wonderful to see the large turnout of people of all ages.
The monument was originally dedicated on May 30, 1994 before a large crowd. Sadly, the monument was dedicated in an unfinished state. The Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic—the G.A.R. was a fraternal organization comprised primarily of Civil War veterans who had fought for the Union– raised money for the monument by hosting 10 cent suppers. Although they raised enough for the foundation of the monument and the granite base, they did not obtain sufficient funds for the granite soldier that was to stand atop the monument.
And so the monument remained unfinished for 118 years.
In his book, Michigan’s Timber Battleground, written several decades ago, author Forrest Meek took time away from telling the story of Clare County’s history to put in this plea:
“[H]ave we, the heirs to these brave and courageous people, fulfilled our obligation while that monument remains incomplete? Should we in this generation finish their task or don’t we have an unpaid indebtedness to their memory. Could we complete that memorial in Cherry Grove Cemetery, thus showing to ourselves that we have not forgotten? That is our challenge! What is our response?”
Finally, Clare County can respond to Forrest and especially to those who served in that terrible war they were not forgotten. While our indebtedness can never fully be repaid, our conscience can at least be a bit clearer now that the monument has been finished. We applaud those who pushed for its completion and funded the work.
Note: There are 83 Civil War veterans buried in the Cherry Grove Cemetery.