CLEVELAND — In 1894, the ribbon was cut on the new Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in downtown Cleveland.
Its goal was to remember the 9,000 men from Cuyahoga County who fought and died in the Civil War.
It was one of the few memorials at the time that included black men who served in what was then called the “colored troops.”
But, the rolls were not complete. Other black soldiers from the area who served were not counted, until Wednesday.
107 names will now be added to the “rolls of honor” at the monument.
It’s the result of more than 20 years of research that started when a group of high school history students in Washington Courthouse went on a field trip to their local cemetery.
“One of the students saw one of the headstones that was bent over and she said ‘don’t these men deserve better?’ and I thought that was the greatest comment because all veterans deserve our respect,” former teacher Paul LaRue said.
So LaRue’s AP class began to catalog the graves at the cemetery and many were soldiers from Northeast Ohio.
The staff with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument came across that database and realized that many were black men from the area that were never accounted for. That set off years of extensive research into 150-year-old records that cemented these soldiers’ place on the walls of honor.
“What we have today is state pension records and because we were able to go back to the pension records, we were able to find details about their service and able to conclude that these men had completed their tour of service,” said Monument Executive Director Tim Daley.
There isn’t any more space to add more names to the walls, so the monument hopes to create a living database and book of honor that will be displayed.
The monument celebrates its 125th anniversary on the 4th of July.
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