Next month, the city of Delaware will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Rutherford B. Hayes with a series of events commemorating his legacy as part of “Hayes Day.”
The festivities on Oct. 4 will begin with a tribute ceremony at the Hayes statue plaza, located on the southwest corner of William and Sandusky streets. The ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be attended by local community leaders, including a representative of the Delaware County Board of Commissioners and state Sen. Andrew Brenner.
Also in attendance will be the Paraguayan ambassador to the United States, who will speak of the reverence Paraguay has for Hayes for his role in arbitrating the land disputes following the Triple Alliance War, which was waged from 1864-70 in South America. Following Paraguay’s defeat at the hands of the alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, Hayes and the United States were called upon to help settle the remaining land dispute, and as a result, lessened the blow for an already-decimated Paraguay in the aftermath of the war.
Four Hayes Scholars from Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), who are native to Paraguay, will raise the Paraguayan flag during the ceremony, and both the Paraguayan national anthem and “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be played.
At noon in room 301 of Merrick Hall on the OWU campus, a free educational program will be held to discuss Hayes’ accomplishments, including detailing his role in Paraguay following the war. The Paraguayan ambassador will serve as the guest speaker for the program.
Also, various programs will be held throughout Delaware City Schools during the school day.
That evening, another program will be held at Rutherford B. Hayes High School beginning at 7 p.m. that will educate those in attendance about Hayes’ childhood in Delaware, his time as a defense attorney in Cincinnati in the 1850s, and provide an explanation of the controversial presidential election of 1876 and the ensuing Compromise of 1877 that ultimately decided the election.
While the program is free for all to attend, a meal will be served prior to its start at 6 p.m. for those who wish to purchase a dinner ticket. Proceeds from each meal will go towards the funding of the Rutherford B. Hayes Scholarship that will be awarded annually to a Delaware Hayes graduate beginning in 2023.
To purchase dinner tickets or to donate to the scholarship fund, visit www.rbhayesheritage.com. Those interested in contributing to the scholarship fund in other ways can also partake in a fundraising event later this month at Restoration Brew Worx. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, a “Rutherford B. Hazy” beer will be served, and proceeds from the sales will be donated to the scholarship fund.
Bill Rietz, the chairman of the Rutherford B. Hayes Heritage Committee, said of the day’s events, “This being the bicentennial, we’re kicking off the educational component of our project as a committee in order to educate the community on who Hayes was and what he did. … There are only 44 communities in the country that can say a native citizen went on to be elected the president of the United States, so Delaware has a lot to be proud of.”
Rietz added that later this month, both the Delaware City Council and the Delaware County Board of Commissioners will be acting on resolutions officially recognizing Oct. 4 as Rutherford B. Hayes Day in Delaware, as will the state government for statewide recognition.
“The importance of the day is to educate the community about a native who went on to become the president of the United States. He did some tremendous things. … In a nutshell, we want to recognize the accomplishments and the work that Rutherford did in his lifetime,” he said.
Delaware Hayes Principal Dr. Ric Stranges said of the celebration, “It gives me great pleasure to be a part of the Rutherford B. Hayes 200th birthday event on Oct. 4. The activities planned, the collaboration made, and the recognition celebrated will make this day very special. We gather with pride for our native son who climbed to the highest office in the land from the city of Delaware which we call home.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.