BENNINGTON — The blue and gold lighting at the Bennington Battle Monument to honor Ukraine will continue past a July 1 deadline for its removal.
“The illumination to support Ukraine has been extended indefinitely,” State Historic Preservation Officer Laura Trieschmann said Thursday in an email.
The lighting, mounted to show support for Ukraine after the nation was attacked in February by Russian forces, originally was scheduled to extend from April 18 through May 26.
But that was amended to July 1 after lobbying by local officials and area lawmakers of the Division for Historic Preservation, which operates the monument historic site, and the governor’s office.
Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, said at the time she was pleased with that decision but would oppose removing the lighting in July unless the war is over by then.
Morrissey said Thursday she is pleased with the extension.
“I am happy it will be able to continue,” she said, “yet I hope that the war will end soon. That doesn’t appear likely.”
Morrissey said she’s also been continually struck by the similarities between Ukraine’s battle against a superpower nation and the British colonies’ war for independence.
“This is like what Bennington went through,” she said.
The 306-foot monument, dedicated in 1891, commemorates a battle that took place nearby in what is today Walloomsac, N.Y. A contingent of mostly mercenary troops from German principalities under Gen. John Burgoyne’s invading British army marched on Bennington, expecting to confiscate military and other supplies stored at the monument site.
But on Aug. 16, 1777, colonial troops and militia, including members of the locally based Green Mountain Boys, routed the invaders and chased them back into New York. That was about two months before Burgoyne’s entire army surrendered following the Battles of Saratoga.
The state retained Kirick Engineering Associates of Williston to identify options for altering the exterior lighting system, which has illuminated the monument since 2003.
Custom colored lens adapters, produced by Lawrence Ribbecke Glass Studio, were fitted on the existing lights with metal frames produced by Conant Metal and Light.
Prior to activating the special lighting, the state also had to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, because the obelisk stands about two miles from the William H. Morse Airport.