BURLINGTON, Wis. (AP) — Just days after his 207th birthday, Abraham Lincoln stands tall again in the southern Wisconsin city of Burlington.
An 8-foot-tall Lincoln statue kept watch over the town for 103 years until a vandal with a pickup truck yanked it off its base a couple weeks ago. But damage was minimal and the statue was returned to where it belongs on Sunday.
More than 100 people stood in the snow to watch the unveiling of the restored statue. Civil War re-enactors served as an honor guard for the dedication ceremony, and a Lincoln re-enactor read a quote from the 1858 Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debates.
Jacob Hinds, 22, was charged with felony criminal damage to property for allegedly toppling the statue and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing next month. Police had responded to a report of a truck parked near the statue Jan. 30 and tracked down the truck, which still had a tow strap dangling from the tailgate, and used surveillance footage to determine it belonged to Hinds.
The statue by Chicago-based sculptor George Etienne Ganiere was donated to Burlington in 1913 by the family of a dentist named Francis Meinhardt. After Meinhardt’s death in 1912, his family carried out his wish to memorialize Lincoln with the statue. It was restored and rededicated in 1995 and again in 2014.
Community members were shocked when they heard the statue had been felled, but they quickly mobilized to get it back in place. Burlington Director of Public Works Jim Bergles said the statue fell on the snow and was not severely damaged. He said it was scuffed and bolts attaching it to the granite pedestal had to be replaced.
Repairs cost $5,000, which officials say insurance will cover. But Burlington Mayor Bob Miller says they’ll seek restitution if the suspect is convicted.
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