CITY OF NEWBURGH — Downing Park’s Civil War monument is back.
The Art Deco monument erected by the Daughters of the Union on Memorial Day 1934 was destroyed when a vehicle ran off Route 9W and crashed into it on July 5, 2016.
When the driver’s insurance wasn’t enough to pay for restoration, a fundraising campaign was launched to make up the difference, including a GoFundMe page. Keith Mieto, vice president of the Downing Park Planning Committee, read the names of all those who contributed to the restoration during a dedication ceremony for the new monument on Saturday afternoon.
The restoration cost about $45,000.
White Vermont marble from the same quarry used in 1934 restored the 8 ½-foot center block, which is flanked by two benches. The center block was completely destroyed by the crash, while the benches were damaged.
The Rev. J. Edward Lewis Sr., pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church, opened the ceremony with an invocation, noting the monument stands as a tribute to those who “fought and died for the survival of a divided nation.”
“Let us lay down our weapons by the riverside, and study war no more,” Lewis prayed.
City Historian Mary McTamaney said many of the Newburgh area residents who fought in the Civil War returned aboard the steamboat Mary Powell on June 13, 1865. They marched up to Washington’s Headquarters, where they were mustered out of the service.
McTamaney said Newburgh “still had some personal memories of the Civil War” when the original monument was planned and dedicated 69 years later.
Annie Irving, who was a nurse in the war, lobbied city officials to accelerate the original monument’s completion so it could be dedicated while some veterans of the war were still living.
On May 30, 1934, one of those veterans, Joseph Brady, was too ill to attend, but two others did: Charles Smith and Theodore Vredenburgh.
“It is for people like Theodore Vredenburgh and Annie Irving that we are here today,” McTamaney said.
The Saints of Swing provided a musical interlude appropriate to the subject and period, performing a medley including “Down by the Riverside” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Mary Kay Messenger, a staff sergeant in the West Point Band, performed the National Anthem.
The crowd cheered as kids pulled the curtain off the new monument.
The monument’s original plaque survived the crash, and now stands once again as the centerpiece of the new one.
At the bottom of the plaque, it reads: “Let us have peace.”