Here is the text of remarks delivered by Brian James Egen, Michigan Historical Commissioner, and Chairman of its Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, at the dedication of a Michigan Historical Marker at the Monterey Pass Battleground on July 5, 2013:
"The State of Michigan sent over 90,000 soldiers, nearly one-quarter of the State’s male population, to defend the Union during the American Civil War. Nearly 15,000 of her brave and loyal citizen soldiers would not return to see their beloved Michigan. Additional thousands bore, as mute testimony, the scars of great and irrevocable deeds done and blood shed upon the lands and seas of the United States.
Michigan’s tenacious and determined contributions of troops, supplies, civilian soldier’s aid relief, political leadership and moral support were vitally instrumental in sustaining and preserving a more perfect Union.
Today we have brought to memory the extraordinary service and paramount sacrifice of the common individual soldier who drew from that large reservoir of bravery and courage to continue onward in spite of almost certain death. Thousands of soldiers lie unknown in graves. To their families and to their generation they were known, for the pain and loss of a loved one was felt directly and with absolute certainty. To us they are unknown in name only as their actions will live forever.
Our hearts must never forget and always appreciate their struggle, efforts and sacrifice, for they shaped the nation we have inherited. As a principal defining moment, this monumental conflict put into motion a series of events that has brought us to where we are today as a people and as a nation. Their determination and perseverance wove yards of whole cloth creating a foundation for America’s tapestry that continues to be created. We must always sustain and uplift the memory of those contributions that made such an indelible impression on our identity.
It is through commemoration and the preservation of historic sites and stories that we secure from the clutches of obscurity the sacrifices and memory of those who struggled and perished long ago. The cultivation of these cherished stories frames the foundation of our freedom and subsequent liberties today, transcending to future generations.
On behalf of the Michigan Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, I would like to thank, with deep appreciation and gratitude, John and Alicia Miller and the Friends of Monterey Pass Battlefield for remembering and honoring the actions of our State’s Wolverines 150 years past. The work of John and the Friends in the preservation of this region’s history is a benchmark of excellence. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Michigan Civil War historian David D. Finney whose passion for and study of Civil War history has inspired countless numbers of people, not only throughout Michigan, but across the nation and was the original driving force behind this marker.
Let us invoke the considerate judgment of all citizens to commemorate the immortal and extraordinary sacrifice made by Michiganders during the American Civil War. The redolent and atavistic nature of their actions, underscored by the magnitude of their sacrifice, compels proud inheritance of and stewardship to the memory of those deeds done for us. Custer, Alger, Kidd, Elliot -- let their names be freshly remembered and representative of all Michigan’s sons upon this field who toil and anguish in conflict no more. Please allow today, if not this moment, the Wolverines of Michigan, to represent all soldiers that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation."
Let it be so ...