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Published: Friday, 10/1/2004

Taking a stand on Custer

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer may be best known for his last stand, but his "first run" will be getting all the attention next week.

Custer Week starts Monday in Monroe, the city he once called home, and lasts through Oct. 9. That's when local runners will gather for the annual "Custer's First Run," a four-mile race that usually attracts about 100 participants, according to John Patterson, president of the Monroe County Convention and Tourism Bureau.

The race kicks off at 5:30 p.m. from the Custer statue at Monroe Street and Elm Avenue in downtown Monroe. The entry fee is $20.

The celebrations scattered throughout the week are a stark contrast to the last stand for which Custer is best known. On June 25, 1876, he led the 7th cavalry into battle against some 2,000 Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors at a village on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. More than 200 U.S. soldiers died in the battle, along with Custer, a West Point graduate and Civil War veteran.

During the week, Monroe will do plenty to honor its former resident. Steve Alexander, a Custer historian, will make speaking appearances around town, and the Castor Association and the Little Big Horn Associates of Michigan, both devoted to Custer, will be in town later in the week for conferences.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the Monroe County Historical Museum, 126 South Monroe, which has a permanent exhibit on Custer, and the Woodland Cemetery on Jerome Street. It is the burial site for the Custer family - though Custer himself is not there - and also has information about the life and times of the family in Monroe.

"It's going to be Custer overload for the next seven days," Mr. Patterson said.

Information: 734-457-1030 or 800-252-3011.



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