Local Civil War committee starts commemoration plans

Published 9:44 am Thursday, July 19, 2012



SOUTH POINT — Mapping out celebrations for the last two years of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in 2014 and 2015 is the mission of a countywide Civil War Anniversary/Commemoration Committee.

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At its first meeting on Wednesday at the county Chamber of Commerce the committee reviewed ways to mark the 150th anniversary of the war that pitted brother against brother.

“Ohio has a rich history with the American Civil War,” Melanie Janiszewski of Ohio Civil War 150, told the committee.” You can use it for economic development and tourism.”

Among the resources that state group can provide is a traveling exhibit about the war, Janiszewski said.

Among the possible activities the committee is considering are a 5-K race, Civil War re-enactments and an Abraham Lincoln festival with a nationally known actor-impersonator.

“We want to think outside the box and open up to other partnerships,” Viviane Vallance, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. “We want to make 2013 the planning year for events in 2014 and 2015. We can have large events like the festival and smaller projects can start right now like the 5-K.”

A possible kickoff event may be a local version of Wreaths Across America, where the graves of veterans in cemeteries nationwide are decorated with wreaths on a specific date and time in December.

Two women who participated in the ceremony last year at Arlington National Cemetery want to bring it to Woodland Cemetery with the goal of decorating the 943 graves in Soldiers Plot.

“It can be a beautiful thing to do in Woodland Cemetery,” Juanita Southers, co-organizer of the local event, said.

Approximately $15,000 is needed to purchase the live evergreen wreaths that will be provided to the local group by the national organization for $15 each. Already the group has $3,000 and is taking contributions in an account at Ohio River Bank.

“There are so many veterans up there whose family no longer exists,” Southers said. Southers’ group already has permission from the cemetery to place the wreaths that will be on the graves for about a month and Ironton Municipal Judge O. Clark Collins’ community workers will remove the wreaths after the period of respect.

If the group doesn’t raise the full amount, the plan is to decorate the front graves of the soldiers’ section.

“We do so much at Memorial Day, but they get forgotten until next year,” Southers said. “It would be a really great thing to do every year. People are very receptive.”

The Civil War committee also wants to create a website about county activities for the commemoration, solicit local family stories about those who served and devise a tour of Civil War sites in the county.

The committee will meet at noon Aug. 3., at the chamber.