SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A historic war artifact has been returned to the Veterans' Memorial Plaza in Springfield after a tragic incident nearly three months ago.
During the American Legion's 72nd annual Memorial Day ceremony, two period-correct, military vehicles, a jeep and an M37, rolled up to the ceremony with the repaired 75mm pack howitzer in tow.
"For me, it's now part of the cannon's story," Nick Gillaspie, the commander of the American Legion, said.
Police said a drunk driver crashed into the howitzer on the corner of Mohawk Boulevard and I Street on March 7.
Crews removed it, and since then, the Springfield community stepped up to repair the howitzer.
"When it was hit, the axle broke, the pintle hook was bent, and the city, particularly Ryan and Cole took care of it, straightened it all out and repainted it for us," Gillaspie said.
Many people who attended the Memorial Day ceremony were relieved to see the howitzer back in the spot it's rested for as long as the event's organizers could remember.
"The cannon being put back in place is a time of healing for us," Brian Descutner said.
This also marked the first holiday since the CDC released new guidance deeming outdoors gatherings of fully vaccinated people safe. Many people at the ceremony said they enjoyed observing the holiday alongside others in their communities.
"After all we've been through, we're better together," Springfield's mayor Sean VanGordon said. "Here we are standing among a group of people who've given everything for this country."