Inclement weather forced the unveiling ceremony to be moved to the Museum Center at Five Points’ lobby. Along one side of the lobby SAR members stood in their Revolutionary War period outfits.
Guests jostled each other to gain a closer position near the podium. Chapter President Carrell Van Deacon said the unveiling received a big turnout.
“We did get the turnout we were hoping for,” Deacon said. “We had a lot of folks from all over the country. We had over a dozen family members who were the descendents of Col. Cleveland.”
Descendents wore lime green name tags. Their family history, inside jokes and memories will be recorded on video. These will be included in Cleveland’s archives.
“That is what this is all about,” Deacon said. “If we don’t do this, nobody is going to remember it in 10, 15 or 20 years ... We are not educating our youth very well.”
Deacon said guests came from Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, among other states.
Two Harvard College professors, R. Scott Stephenson and Dr. Phillip Mead, were present for the proceedings.
A resolution was read by Deacon prior to the unveiling.
“Whereas, the City of Cleveland, Tennessee is named after Colonel Benjamin Cleveland; and whereas, Col. Benjamin Cleveland was born in Virginia in 1738 and lived at the Roundabout in Wilkes County, N.C., during the Revolutionary War, and commanded the Wilkes County militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780, with the Patriot’s victory there being considered the turning point of the Revolutionary War,” Deacon read.
“And whereas, the town of Cleveland, formally known as Taylor’s Place, was named in honor of Col. Benjamin Cleveland on Jan. 20, 1838, by the Tennessee State Legislature...”
“And whereas, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution was named for Col. Cleveland, and was formally chartered and installed on Dec. 5, 2003...”
Deacon continued, “And whereas, in late 2007, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter voted to pursue the creation of a statue to honor the name-giver of the City of Cleveland, Tennessee as no other suitable memorial exists...”
Mayor Tom Rowland accepted the presentation of the statue to the city.
“On behalf of the city of Cleveland ... we appreciate very much [the statue]. This is another spoke in the wheel toward revitalizing our downtown district,” Rowland said. “It gives us a point of reference, and a point for future generations to come and say, ‘Yes, that is the man we named our city after.’”
Sculptor Josh Coleman, a local artist commissioned to create the Cleveland statue, was present for the unveiling proceedings.
“I can’t imagine too many incredible things to do in your own city,” Coleman said. “It is just a complete honor.
He said seeing the looks on guests’ faces at the unveiling was reward in and of itself.
“If you are doing something for the public, your reward is in the eyes of the public,” Coleman said. “To watch their response and reception to it is where the reward comes in. It gives me confidence in being successful in future projects.”
He encouraged Cleveland to gather more art.
“Let’s put more art out here in Cleveland. Art that creates experience, like the yellow chair (another Coleman creation),” Coleman said. “I imagine creating monumental objects that create experience. A sort of playfulness and enjoyment — a sheer pleasure in life.”
Coleman said, “Let’s experience life together in these fun ways.”
The Col. Benjamin Cleveland Statue can be seen in the First Street Square. An explanatory plaque is on the front with a list of the monument benefactors in the back.