Outgoing President Steve Pettyjohn’s Farewell Message at the May 2021 Roundtable Meeting
Welcome to the 567th meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable!
This is going to be a night of firsts.
It is our first in-person meeting since March 11, 2021.
It is our first meeting at our new home – the Holiday Inn Independence.
It is our first meeting that will be Live Streamed on our YouTube Channel!
It will be the first and last time that I have had the opportunity to talk with you in person. Something that will probably sound like a very good thing to many of you – for one reason or another.
It has been a long and arduous journey for our country since that Black Friday, March 13, when our nation began to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Roundtable faced several challenges, and I would like to think our group has worked hard together to overcome them.
We had our first electronic election of officers.
We were able to deliver our planned program of speakers using Zoom Technology, and now we are trying to use Live Stream to provide a better experience for people who can’t get here tonight. It is being delivered by using our YouTube Channel – another new creation from this year.
We have worked very hard on improving the internal mechanics of our group with an emphasis on communications.
We created and adopted an editorial policy for our publications including The Charger, our website, and any future ones including electronic ones. We initiated an Editorial Policy Board to administer our policies. These actions were designed to protect our club in the future from possible legal and other issues.
We have moved to a new home here at the Holiday Inn Independence – the culmination of a two-year effort on the part of two past Executive Committees.
We were able to conduct a delayed field trip to Petersburg a few weeks ago.
Finally, we are able to host Mr. Terry Winschel this evening for our final program of 2020-2021.
WE accomplished all of these things through the work of many people working together for our group. I want to take a few minutes to recognize them for their contributions over the last year. First, we had more officers’ meetings on a regular basis, mostly monthly. Most meetings included officers and directors. I will always appreciate their time, efforts, and wise counsel over the last year.
I was blessed with a wonderful set of officers including:
Mark Porter as vice president. Mark played an important role in helping with several initiatives this year besides working diligently to set up next year’s programs and field trip.
Bob Pence – treasurer – Bob had a very interesting year with his journey into retirement and did a great job of providing us with financial information for all of our meetings.
Lily Korte – secretary – Lily produced the best set of minutes from all of our meetings that I have seen, and she played an important role in our social media efforts including the website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Our Constitution calls for past presidents to serve as directors for two years after their tenure is over, and I was lucky to have both Ellen Connally and Dan Ursu to help me out this past year.
Ellen chaired the committee to create our editorial policies and serves as the first chairperson of the Editorial Review Board.
Dan has served as a director and historian. He is responsible for the history briefs this year on one of my favorite subjects – U.S. Grant at Vicksburg.
Our other directors who served very faithfully, attending meetings and helping with other assignments, were:
Hans Kuenzi – another past president
I want to give a special recognition to what I called our “SIGNAL CORPS” who played such an important role in the last year.
First, The Charger, our monthly newsletter from September through May. Thank you to Mike and Catherine Wells and Dennis Keating for your continued devotion to this Roundtable staple. They put in countless hours of work every year to deliver this Roundtable institution to us.
Our website – it went dark last summer but has been brought back to life with the dedication and hard work of Dave Carrino and Lily Korte with continued support from past webmaster Paul Burkholder. Dave has worked for over a year to move past articles from our old website platform to our new one. Lily has contributed her library and internet skills to help with organization and presentation of new material.
Facebook and Twitter – Lily Korte has continued her efforts to ensure we have a positive presence on both of these platforms.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Several new members joined because they saw us on the internet. Several thousand people every year access our articles for information on the Civil War. Others contact members who are listed on our Speakers Bureau section on the website. John Fazio and Mel Maurer gave presentations earlier this year to an RAF Defense Seminar in England. They were contacted as a result of a website search.
Dan Zeiser – what can I say? Dan is the dean of our Signal Corps. We rely on his “Members and Friends” email list to keep you all informed. The wonderful thing is I could send a request to Dan to send a message and always get same-day service. He was also on the Editorial Committee and Board.
We did create a backup email system this year after creating and verifying an up-to-date membership list with appropriate contact information. We plan on using it as a “members only tool” while Dan broadcasts to a wider audience.
I want to thank a new member, Andrew Mangels, for his help in getting us started in using Zoom during this year. Andrew is Director at Westlake Porter Public Library and it was a busy year for him, but he found time to help us on a regular basis with the intricacies of Zoom. Without his help, we would not have had the September meeting with Will Green, and our debate in January would not have been nearly as effective.
I also want to thank Tommy Solomon who has served as our internet/IT consultant and Help Desk. Tommy provides the same services to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. We could not have had a good year without his help.
Thank you to everyone at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument for their help during the year. Ted Prasse, President of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Commission, Vice Chair C. Ellen Connally, and Executive Director Tim Daley helped make the visits of our only on-site speakers, Will Green in September and Terry Winschel in May, memorable by opening up the monument for special tours. Both Will and Terry have told me how much they appreciated the tours and our hospitality.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for hanging in there over the last year, having faith in our group and showing up for Zoom meetings, paying your dues, and providing other support.
We made it through and I am looking forward to an exciting next year as Mark Porter has put together a wonderful program and an exciting field trip to Chickamauga and Chattanooga.