"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 Bishop, 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 an encampment to descendants of 103rd O.V.I. volunteers. 

What was the reunion barracks now houses a museum open to the public on the Sunday in May, June, September, and October of each year that the 103rd O.V.I. hosts a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the foundation and museum. You can also make an appointment to tour the museum. 

Inside the museum, Lou Wagner poses next to the image of his grandfather, Sgt. Timothy Metzler, in a mural print of a photo of a reunion of 103rd O.V.I. veterans. 

Inside the museum, Lou Wagner poses next to the image of his grandfather, Sgt. Timothy Metzler, in a mural print of a photo of a reunion of 103rd O.V.I. veterans. 

After seeing a sign a couple of years ago touting a pancake breakfast, I came to the May breakfast, and attending them has become a tradition. As the son of a World War 2 veteran and as a former Navy Officer, the organization and its members, breakfasts, Camp Week, and grounds are a tribute to those who volunteered and served. 

Now that I've been visiting three years, 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. 

Lucky didn't flinch when the 3-inch gun fired. 2016 Camp Week.

Lucky didn't flinch when the 3-inch gun fired. 2016 Camp Week.

Three-inch gun, 2016 Camp Week.

Three-inch gun, 2016 Camp Week.

General Sherman, 2016 Camp Week.

General Sherman, 2016 Camp Week.

Camp Week 2017 kicked off with a potluck supper on Saturday night, the traditional turkey dinner Sunday afternoon, and raising and lowering the colors. The 8th OVI Company B was encamped. 

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Company B answers questions about Union Army life during the Civil War. 2017 Camp Week.

Company B answers questions about Union Army life during the Civil War. 2017 Camp Week.

Captain Harvey covers his ear during Company B primer check on Sunday. 2017 Camp Week.

Captain Harvey covers his ear during Company B primer check on Sunday. 2017 Camp Week.

Company B, 8th O.V.I. stands at attention after lowering of the colors. 2017 Camp Week.

Company B, 8th O.V.I. stands at attention after lowering of the colors. 2017 Camp Week.

Having established a presence, I look forward to next spring's pancake breakfasts, documenting the annual reunion again next summer, updating this page, and passing along the energy and inspiration this fine organization and its members generate as it honors service.

Thank you to Nancy Yahraus, Gus, Lou, and the others who welcomed Lucky, my camera, and me. 

Want to learn more about the 103rd OVI? The next pancake breakfasts are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, and Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 5501 East Lake Road in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. 

103rd O.V.I. Website: http://www.103ovi.com

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Photos © 2017 Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved