Recalled restoration of statues
LEWISBURG — The lineup for the 25th Union County Veteran’s 4th of July parade features Henry Halvorsen and family among parade marshals.
Halvorsen and other members of the first Monument Committee will be near the front of the
procession, thanks to the initiative they took in restoring a monument which in turn inspired the parade in the 1990s. Nada Gray, former borough manager, Graham Showalter and Al Hess were also named parade marshals. The late Bob Benfer, Thomas Kreamer and Alfred Byrd were named and will be represented by family members or others.
The Marine Corps veteran got involved in part because of his role as commander of Lewisburg American Legion Post 182. He recalled seeing the original Civil War soldier and sailor from the monument while they were corroding in storage. They were under the Union County Courthouse steps for protection from vandals.
What had to be done to restore the statues was unclear at the start.
“They started checking with different places to find out how much it would cost, how to do it (and) if they were fixable to begin with,” he said. “We had to go and recreate them. That’s basically what they had to do.”
Halvorsen was in on a couple of trips made to a Lancaster-area company which was tasked with remolding the statues and putting copper over it.
“They took the original statues and made molds out of them,” he recalled. “Then they basically redid them and put them all back together.”
One of the challenges to maintaining authenticity was to make sure the solider on the monument had a rifle and the sailor had a sword. Both accessories were missing.
“(The sword) we could do,” Halvorsen said. “But the rifle they took down.”
Halvorsen recalled the owner of a St. Mary Street auto parts store collected Civil War-style rifles. They borrowed one so it could be modeled.
Once costs were figured out, fundraising ensued with a letter campaign. There was also a new bronze plaque made for the rededication. Monument Committee members, county commissioner names and other contributors are listed on it.
“That’s what I tell people,” Halvorsen said. “My name is in bronze for all eternity until it gets torn down!”
The soldier and sailor were restored and covered with a protective resin. A flagpole, fence and lighting were also part of the shape up and fresh landscaping done.
A scrapbook of the early days compiled by Gray helped tweak memories. Halvorsen recognized himself in a photo from 1995.
“We were planning on just having a dedication ceremony,” he said. “(Showalter) came up and said let’s do this right. Let’s have a parade and then the dedication.”
Only afterward did the idea of making it an annual event come about.
“The first parade was a pretty good size parade,” he said. “We had time. It wasn’t like a week before and we decided to have it.”
Halvorsen said the a big committee decided to have the parade on the last Saturday in June.
Halvorsen said he has been at every parade and most of the ceremonies. He has seen the event grow to include other activities. Halvorsen noted many veterans are in the crowd, some of whom choose to not attract attention.
It was Halvorsen’s hope that all veterans would attend, at least once, and enjoy the attention of the crowd.
Halvorsen’s father served in World War II and his sister, Karen, was an officer in the Navy.
Halvorsen is currently parliamentarian for New Berlin American Legion Post 957. He was also past central vice commander and district commander for the Pennsylvania American Legion. He served from October 1974 to October 1976.
Visit www.unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com, call 844-VETSDAY or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the 25th annual parade and related events. The parade is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. today on the streets of Lewisburg with a day and evening full of events to follow.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at email@example.com.