WYOMING — Those attending Wednesday’s 140th annual observance of the Battle of Wyoming will learn “the rest of the story.”
That is the topic chosen by principal speaker Clark Switzer, head of the Social Studies Department at the Wyoming Seminary Lower School.
“I chose that title because oftentimes we focus on the singular event — the battle,” Switzer said. “I will broaden that out to what the event meant and what it connects — from those who fought and those who survived to us today.”
A graduate of King’s College, Switzer holds a master’s degree from the University of Scranton. A recognized teacher and author on area history, he developed an academic curriculum on local history and DVDs on Wyoming Valley history.
The Wyoming Monument honors those Patriots killed by Tories and Iroquois Indians on July 3, 1778, in the Battle of Wyoming.
Construction on the monument — which marks the gravesite for bones of victims — began in July 1833 but was suspended due to a lack of funds when the monument reached 20 feet. Construction resumed in 1841 when the Ladies Luzerne Monumental Association, which became the Wyoming Monument Association in 1860, raised money to complete the memorial at a cost of $8,000.
On the 100th anniversary of the battle on July 3, 1878, a commemoration service drew more than 50,000 to hear the main speaker for the event, U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes. The service has been held on the battle anniversary every year since.
President Theodore Roosevelt visited the monument in 1905. President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter visited the site on May 28, 2013.
A lightning strike damaged the monument on Aug. 3, 2008. E.D. Pons & Associates assessed the damage and offered recommendations for repair and restoration. Marcella Starr, president of the Wyoming Monument Association, said a lightning arrestor rod was installed to prevent future damage.
In July, 2010, Dr. Joseph Mattioli and his wife, Dr. Rose, donated $100,000 to the Wyoming Monument Association to pay for the restoration of the lightning-damaged historical landmark.
Bill Lewis, an officer with the Wyoming Commemorative Association, said the ceremony will mark the 240th anniversary of the battle and massacre. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the monument on Wyoming Avenue.
“The annual ceremony recalls the most important Revolutionary War battle fought in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Lewis said. “It keeps the whole tradition alive and it talks about the length of service that people have had in this country.”
Lewis said the Wyoming Valley Concert Band will play from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with the observance ceremony starting at 10:30.
Chairing the annual ceremony this year is Susan Shoemaker, Esq., of Wyoming. The Rev. Bruce Gowe, of the Dorranceton Methodist Church, will offer the invocation and benediction.
The event is free and open to the public; first-come, first-served tent-covered seating is available.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.