One of the missions of the Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table is to provide financial support to Civil War Preservation groups.
In 2003 the Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table participated in the Kent County Civil War monument rededication.
KCWRT member Chet Trybus (in stylish tan hat) delivers T. D. Gilbert’s speech. KCWRT member Bruce Butgereit stands to his left (photo courtesy of John Volkhen).
Beneath a cold and blustery October sky the Kent County Civil War Monument was rededicated in a moving ceremony on Saturday morning October 4 th in downtown Grand Rapids at Fulton and Division. Several KCWRT members took leading parts in the program, which was patterned after the original 1885 dedication ceremony. Bruce Butgereit was Master of Ceremonies, and his children Bruce II and Bernadette were members of the Guard of Honor, along with Blaine Valentine. All were wearing Union uniforms. Bill Brennan was also among the uniformed participants, serving with his Sons of Union Veterans unit in the color guard. In an interesting sidelight, a Confederate color guard was present as well, representing the Confederate veterans of the Stonewall brigade who had attended the 1885 ceremony.
Chet and Jeannine Trybus and Marcia Butgereit were dressed in period civilian attire. Chet delivered the same speech originally delivered by T. D. Gilbert, one of the speakers at the original dedication ceremony, and Marcia read the poem “Company K.” As members of the restoration committee, Chet, Jeannine, Bruce, and Marcia all received framed certificates of recognition for their hard work. Connie Larson and I, and several members of the GRCWRT were also in attendance as well.
The program contained two songs performed by the Schubert Male Chorus, which had participated in the original ceremony, and speeches by the obligatory horde of local politicians, a few of which were actually pretty good.
Near the end of the ceremony, Bruce quoted the words of C. W. Watkins of the 10 th Michigan Cavalry, a “talker” at the 1885 dedication, “…That as long as grass grows and water runs, the deeds of the soldiers will be kept fresh and green in the hearts of the people…”
Then, Edward Blakely, a 100 year-old member of the GRCWRT whose father, a Union veteran, had been at the original ceremony, hit the button that turned on the monument’s fountain. Thanks to all the hard work by the monument restoration committee, the water runs once more in Grand Rapids.