On New Year’s Eve 1862, then-First Lieutenant Frederick Phisterer, while under heavy fire in the Battle of Stones River (Tennessee) during the American Civil War, conveyed information to a battalion commander and ultimately protected the unit from capture or annihilation.
For this act of valor that went beyond the call of duty, Phisterer was awarded the Medal of Honor – our nation’s highest military honor – by President Grover Cleveland. He went on to serve as an officer in the New York Militia and played a role in its reorganization as part of the National Guard. He helped to train soldiers for the Spanish-American War and served as New York’s Adjutant General in 1901 and 1902.
Upon his death in 1909, Brevet Major General Phisterer came home to Ohio and was laid to rest in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus. The New York National Guard honored him by providing a special grave marker in hopes that future generations could know of his service to our nation. The descendants of BMG Phisterer have since moved on to other states, but are grateful that fate has provided us an opportunity to recognize him and tell his story once again.
Recently, my office learned that his marker had been knocked over and broken by vandals. With the permission of his descendants, we were able to work closely with the Green Lawn Cemetery Association, the Ohio History Connection, Columbus Art Memorial and local veteran organizations to see the monument properly repaired and restored. On Veterans Day we are having a short ceremony to rededicate his marker and honor his service.
In the more than 240 years we have been a country, there have been countless acts of bravery performed by thousands of men and women in uniform. This Veterans Day, I encourage you to take a moment and honor one or more of these patriotic Americans whether they are in your family or, like BMG Phisterer, belong to the ages. As for me, I’ll be honored to place a flag on his newly-restored, final resting place.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District and a colonel in the Army National Guard.