Veterans of all wars were honored during a stately, colorful ceremony that rededicated the Civil War monument outside Old City Hall on Pine Street Friday night.
The crowd, made up mostly of elders, gathered on the building’s lawn during the cool, sunny evening as the tall bugler was rededicated by Lycoming County Judge Dudley Anderson.
Anderson was invited by the event’s host – Faye Carlisle-Thomas of the Allied Orders of the Grand Army of the Republic – because a Lycoming County judge did the initial dedication almost 120 years ago.
“This statue was erected in honor of the men who fought and died in the costliest and most traumatic war in American history,” Anderson said. “It is estimated that 6,000 men from Lycoming County fought in the Civil War … A terrible cost was exacted for that service and there still remains the graves of the casualties of that conflict throughout this county … It is with great respect, and profound reverence, that I rededicate this monument to those whose great sacrifice preserves a nation from which we all benefit so greatly today.”
Anderson was just one of several local dignitaries who spoke at the event, which included a color guard and music from the Williamsport Repasz band. The band performed at the original ceremony in 1894.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s remarks opened the proceedings. Campana said the same values inherent in those who fought in the Civil War and who erected the statue still are in us today.
He then invoked words from the Gettsyburg Address before Community Arts Center Director Rob Steele, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, delivered the historic speech from the building’s balcony.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, presenting an honorable citation from the state House of Representatives to the Allied Orders, spoke about the importance of history.
“All of us who are elected officials … couldn’t do what we do if it weren’t for the people who went before us,” Mirabito said. “And I’m a firm believer that it’s important for us to know where we’re going and where we are now by remembering the past.”
Mirabito thanked the building’s owners – Christina and Daniel Ertel – for their “awesome responsibility to keep this building and this monument,” adding that he will teach his son about the statue’s history and the beliefs of the individuals who are responsible for it.
Special guest George Heiges, Director of the Lycoming County office of Veterans Affairs, said he has the “best job that anybody could ask for,” serving over 12,000 veterans everyday in the county.
“I listen to their stories and make sure that not only themselves, but their families get the benefits they’re entitled to from the VA,” he said.
During the event, wreaths were laid at the base of the statue by members of the groups that make up the Allied Orders: The Women’s Relief Corps, Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
The representatives from each group also made charitable donations to local groups, including Liberty House and the Snyder County Historical Society.
The proceedings closed with the sounding of taps by a live bugler on the balcony of Old City Hall.