“I am passionately interested in understanding how my country works. And if you want to know about this thing called the United States of America, you have to know about the Civil War.” - Ken Burns
As the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (U.S. Route 6) winds its way from Provincetown, Massachusetts to Santa Monica, California, it fittingly passes the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry grounds on Lake Erie’s shore in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.
Honoring those who volunteered from Lorain, Cuyahoga, and Medina counties, and originally the site of annual reunions of 103rd O.V.I. veterans who returned from the Civil War, the grounds now include cottages that are home to descendants of 103rd O.V.I. volunteers.
What once served as the reunion barracks now houses a museum open to the public on the Sunday in May, June, September, and October of each year, when the 103rd O.V.I. hosts a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the foundation and museum. You can tour the museum at other times by appointment.
After seeing a sign touting a pancake breakfast, I came to the May 2015 breakfast, and attending them has become a tradition. As the son of a World War II veteran and as a former Navy Officer myself, to me, the organization and its members, breakfasts, Camp Week, and grounds are a tribute to those who volunteered and served.
After four years of visits, the members are used to my quiet, unobtrusive camera. They welcomed Lucky, God rest him, who always enjoyed a bit of sausage and some scrambled egg from the breakfasts, and who calmly watched the firing of the 3-inch gun during 2016 Camp Week.
What’s Camp Week? Every summer, descendants of those who served in the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry reunite at the 103rd OVI grounds in Sheffield Lake to remember those who served and to share stories.
Camp Week 2017 kicked off with a potluck supper on Saturday night, the traditional turkey dinner Sunday afternoon, and raising and lowering the colors. Company B of the 8th O.V.I. was encamped.
As a veteran, and as the son of a veteran, it’s a privilege to pass along the energy and inspiration this fine organization and its members generate as they honor service.
Thank you to Nancy Yahraus, Gus, Lou, and the others who welcomed Lucky, my camera, me - and more recently, Manny.
Want to learn more about the 103rd OVI? The next pancake breakfasts are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, 2019 and Sunday, June 9, 2019, at the 103rd O.V.I. grounds, 5501 East Lake Road in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.
103rd O.V.I. Website: http://www.103ovi.co
Photos © 2016, 2017 Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved
“The majority of U.S. high school students don’t know within 50 years when the Civil War occurred.” - Jim Leach