It's not likely that you were around to fight in the American Civil War, but you can help fight dirt and grime on the Civil War monument at Lake Forest Cemetery this weekend.
Volunteers are asked to wear old clothes and show up at the monument on the south end of the cemetery at 9 a.m. Saturday. Cleaning supplies will be provided.
“We don't need the entire community to come out, but anybody who is interested in helping scrub and clean a little bit of history," said Bruce Butgereit, one of the organizers. "Even if they want to stand around and watch, that's fine, too.”
Butgereit is the memorials officer for the Gen. John A. Logan Camp 1 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, which is organizing the work detail with the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.
The marble monument was built in Holland and placed in the Grand Haven cemetery around 1890, according to newspaper accounts.
“The Grand Army (of the Republic) in Grand Haven ordered a monument from a marble company in Holland,” Butgereit said. “That's all I can find. We know in 1892 it was there in the cemetery because the Memorial Day services announcement states there would be services there.”
Each year, veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic would meet near Grand Haven City Hall, then march to the cemetery to gather around the monument for a Memorial Day service, according to Butgereit.
“That's quite a hike for some of the elderly men,” he said.
Despite its age, Butgereit said the monument is in fine condition. But mold, mildew and mossy growth detract from its appearance.
Butgereit said he hopes the cleaning event sparks interest for next month's rededication of the monument. That ceremony is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 13, and will be followed by a tour of graves of the soldiers who served at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.
“This is part of bringing history back to life,” Butgereit said. “The response has been quite exciting and people are talking about it. By inviting the public to help, we're hoping to create relationships and partnerships that can last beyond this project. This can lead to bigger, better things.”