Interesting Story: The Union Soldier

2013-12-01

The monument of the Union Soldier is a story which began with an anonymous contribution from the widow of a Union Veteran in Ohio. She arranged to have the statue cast in copper in Salem, Ohio, by the W. H. Mullins Co., Finished in an antique bronze, and then Shipped to Ontario, California. The base of the monument was paid for by the Women's Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic at a cost of $250. The statue was placed on a mound of rocks, along with a Civil War cannon which still stands today at the east end of the cemetery facing what was the original entrance at Mountain Avenue. On May 30, 1908, 43 years after the Civil War, 1000 people came to the cemetery to dedicate the statue on a day known as "Decoration Day."
In March of 1940, the monument was presented to the Podrasnik Camp No. 15 of The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. A group from the camp restored the statue and the base in 1953 and a rededication ceremony was held on May 24, 1953.
In the 1970's the solider was the target of vandals, who repeatedly knocked it off its base, and shot at it with BB and pellet guns. The damages to the soldier resulted in the loss of a bayonet which was attached to the soldier's belt and most of the rifle with the muzzle in his hands remaining.
The statue was placed onto the base again around 1988, with a wrought iron fence constructed around it. Within weeks of standing tall once more, the soldier was knocked off again, and was retired to the storage area for repair. Since then, there have been several inquiries regarding the disposition of the statue. One of the inquiries was from the son of an owner of the W. H. Mullins Co., asking that the cemetery donate the soldier to a museum in Ohio. Other inquires have been made regarding the donation on the cannon, but as explained by the former General Manager Bud Christian, "These items are not ours to give away. The monument was erected by the community, and it's not the cemetery's prerogative to donate or sell any part of it."
The soldier stands here as a reminder of all those who fought and died for our country. He helps us remember that our soldiers lives have great meaning as we reflect on the liberties we enjoy.

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