A14 / SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013 / THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
No Strings Attached
Monument Park sentry back on guard after brief respite
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After being relieved of duty for two days, the Union soldier atop the Kent County Civil War Monument is back on guard. Construction crews working on improvements to Monument Park at Fulton Street and Division Avenue placed the zinc cast solider back atop the 35-foot tall monument about 8 a.m. on Thursday. Below, the Union soldier up close. (Courtesy Photo/Bruce Butgereit)
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After being relieved of duty for two days, the Union soldier atop the Kent County Civil War Monument is back on guard. Construction crews working on improvements to Monument Park at Fulton Street and Division Avenue placed the zinc cast solider back atop the 35-foot tall monument about 8 a.m. on Thursday. In July, crews began a $547,600 makeover of the triangle-shaped park, one of the cities’ oldest. Improvements include new sidewalks, trees and street lighting as part of a larger effort to update Monument Park and Veterans Memorial Park to the east. The monument, last placed facing down Monroe Center NW, was moved to a more central location in the park, and now stands sentry facing the Fulton and Division intersection, which marks the center of the region’s traffic grid. According to historian Bruce Butgereit, the 128-year-old “white bronze” monument only has been relieved of duty three times in its lifespan: 1977 during construction of the Monroe pedestrian mall, in 2003 during a restoration project, and last week. The monument was the first in the nation to include a built-in fountain, and the first to commemorate the role women played during the Civil War, according to the Grand Rapids Historical Society website. It originally was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1885, and rededicated on Oct. 4, 2003, after the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War raised $250,000 for the project. The ceremony was attended by Edward Blakely, son of a Civil War veteran. The restoration included removing layers of “Union blue” paint applied in 1953 at the insistence of a local group that objected to the original silver-blue finish that was interpreted as being “Confederate gray.” When workers disassembled the monument in 2003, they discovered it actually was not bolted into the ground, and had stood unsecured for 118 years. Butgereit said it also was moved about 6 inches in 1958 when the city noticed it had shifted and was facing south. Although the new placement of the monument is facing southwest, Butgereit said it’s a non-issue today. “Memorials across the