published Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Fundraising students attend rededication of the Ohio Monument atop Missionary Ridge

Derek Hinkle and his fifth-grade class from Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, stand in front of the Ohio Monument on Missionary Ridge. Their fundraising efforts helped pay for the restoration of the drummer boy statue. 
Staff Photo by Alex Harris
Derek Hinkle and his fifth-grade class from Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, stand in front of the Ohio Monument on Missionary Ridge. Their fundraising efforts helped pay for the restoration of the drummer boy statue. Staff Photo by Alex Harris

It was cold and rainy Saturday as teacher Derek Hinkle and his fifth-grade class from Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, gathered for the rededication of the Ohio Monument atop Missionary Ridge.

The class traveled from Ohio after raising money to restore the monument, first unveiled in 1903 by veterans, local residents and Ohio citizens to remember the Civil War sacrifices of the soldiers from Ohio.

Waggoner fifth-grader Mason Streeter didn't mind the rain -- too much.

"Well, my feet are cold," he said.

But he added that being there to see the restored monument as a part of the team that accomplished it was a great feeling.

The journey to the restoration of the monument -- a part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park -- began about four years ago. Hinkle and his twin brother came to see the monument after researching family history and finding an ancestor had fought on Missionary Ridge.

He met ridge resident Betsy Bramlett, who suggested the Ohioans help restore the monument.

Starting in January, Hinkle and his class of 25 began raising $5,000 to fix a statue of a drummer boy and repair water damage. Acworth, Ga., conservator Gordon Ponsford reworked some old repairs, replaced the statue's right hand and replaced the original zinc drumsticks with new aluminum ones.

"Today, we again gather as local citizens, with a group from Ohio, this time to again honor the past, but also to appreciate one class' efforts to make sure that our shared American history is remembered and cared for," said Todd Roeder, the acting park superintendent.

Hinkle also heaped praise on his class, who he said made this all happen.

All the students contributed in some way, with some contacting veterans groups for donations, some writing thank you notes and making sure they got signed, some preparing an itinerary for their trip and some writing grant requests to get more money for the restoration, Hinkle said.

Park Ranger Chris Young compared the effort to the movie "The Monuments Men," the story of a military unit of museum directors and art curators who saved important pieces of art from destruction in Europe during World War II.

"You guys are monuments men and women," Young said to applause. "Because you guys, what you did, you went and you saved not just a piece of art, but a piece of our history."

And Mason said it was really exciting to be a part of that history.

"It just looks amazing now, and we raised all that money and we get to see it now in person," Mason said with a smile.

"I'm really happy that I was able to come down here with my teacher, and this is a great way to end a year."

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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