MISSOULA — In 2001, the iconic "Missoula Peace Sign" was taken down from the North Hills. This year, 20 years later, it’s going to be reassembled.
The original Missoula Peace Sign will not be rebuilt in its natal location, but at the downtown location of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, the organization behind its reconstruction.
“We have gathered all but three of the pieces at the Peace Center now, so they're there and they're waiting," Besty Mulligan-Dague, Jeanette Rankin peace Center Executive Director, told MTN News.
Mulligan-Dague said she hopes the construction of the pieces will come together in the next six to eight weeks.
“Today is the 20th anniversary of when it came down, and nine people stepped up to say, 'I'll keep a piece of it, I'll be a peacekeeper and take care of it,' and the agreement was always that they would it would not be theirs," Mulligan-Dague explained.
"It would just be theirs to care take until the time that it could be put back together again. So, this is a dream come true for so many of them that have taken care of that and are now going to love to see it reunited," she continued.
Six panels of the sign have been reunited. Three more remain to make the symbol complete.
The original material, a telecommunications reflector split into 9 pieces, will be contributed to the reconstruction.
On Saturday, a few locals gathered for a hike in the North Hills to see where the sign had once been.
History buff and community activist Jim Parker walked the participants through the story of the sign - which was actually a telephone tower designed to reflect microwave signals.
“The sign was 30 feet in one direction and 24 feet in the other direction. It reached four stories up into the air," Parker said to the crowd. "Now, it was just the microwave symbol for many years. But that all changed in 1983.”
According to Parker, six people painted the sign overnight for six hours in 1983. It was controversial, and the telephone company U.S. West did not approve.
“Dawn brought forth the birthing of a cultural icon to some, graffiti to others, and the Missoula peace sign was viewed for the first time by the public below in the valley,” Parker said.
With the help of donors including the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, the past will become the present once again as the sign is reassembled.
On Sunday, theJeannette Rankin Peace Center will host a second event for Mother's Day to honor the reconstruction of the sign.