The restored 74th Pennsylvania Monument
On Friday November 14, 2003, a driver winding down Howard Avenue lost control of their SUV and slammed into the beautiful 74th Pennsylvania Monument. The crushing force shattered the monument soldiers had dedicated to friends and comrades who fell during the Battle of Gettysburg. Now as broken as the bodies of those it so proudly honored, many feared for the future of this uniquely somber monument.
The 115 year old monument, erected by the surviving members of the 74th PA, had faithfully watched over these fields north of Gettysburg since 1888. As the years progressed, the fallen color bearer held vigil while the wars wounds healed. North and South reconciled, twelve more states entered the Union, cars replaced horses, power lines spread along ever expanding roadways, radio then television brought the world closer, and technology exploded. Through countless unforgiving winters and sweltering summers, the monument endured. Now, the fragments of this memorial to deeds past, never before asking for sanctuary, needed the help of others simply to survive and continue its mission.
74th Pennsylvania Monument after the accident
The National Park Service removed most of the pieces from Gettysburg's sacred grounds and began the work of restoration. Visitors drove by the roped-off semi-vacant space, gazing in sadness at the fractured base of the once proud memorial. Time passed. Worried enthusiasts contacted Park Service staff for updates. Pensive anxiety grew as time lapsed. Weeks, then months, passed by. For the first time since Grover Cleveland's presidency, the seasons changed on these fields without the watchful eye of the 74th Pennsylvania.
Then in November of 2004, the majestic monument reappeared, once again resuming its post on the fields so faithfully guarded. The reparations proved a resounding glorious success. The restored monument once again cast its shadow on the fields where so many comrades had given their lives. The spirits of these men smiled as the monument, their monument, would endure so that we all could remember and ponder what they did here.
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