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 New drive by Readshaw for Gettysburg monuments plate


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CONTACT: Jay Purdy (717) 787-7895

HARRISBURG, February 4--State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, wants to establish a “disaster insurance” fund to guarantee preservation of the 143 Pennsylvania Regimental monuments and markers on the Battlefield at Gettysburg, and he believes a specialty license plate would provide the financial resources.

Through his Gettysburg Monuments Project, Readshaw has drawn in hundreds of thousands of dollars in private donations to meet the current restoration and maintenance needs of the monuments, and has endowed perpetual trusts for 75 of them to ensure their continued maintenance. However, once the currently funded restoration is complete, the trust funds would address natural wear and tear in the decades ahead, but they would not cover catastrophic damage such as that inflicted by vandals, lightning or falling trees.

“In just a couple minutes, someone with a hammer or pry-bar can cause thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars damage to a monument,” Readshaw said. At the height of his Gettysburg Monuments Project fund drive, vandals struck the monument to the 90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument on Doubleday Avenue.

The granite monument represents the base of a large oak tree that was on the regiment’s line of battle in the three-day long engagement in July 1863. Near its top is a bronze bird nest with a mother and baby birds. Legend has it that as the regiment defended its position against attacking confederates, a bird’s nest was knocked out of the tree and, under heavy fire, a soldier climbed the tree and replaced it.

In 1999, vandals tore bronze ornamentation off the granite shaft, including a knapsack and rifle. Through the Gettysburg Monuments Project, students at James Byrd Elementary School in Shippensburg raised enough money to have an artisan repair the damage. The students traveled to Gettysburg in May of 2000 for a check presentation ceremony at the monument. Readshaw turned the funds over to the Gettysburg National Military Park to make the repairs.

“We were fortunate in that the vandalism occurred in the middle of our campaign and we were able to respond to it quickly,” Readshaw said, “but other monuments on the battlefield that have been seriously damaged by the elements or human action sometimes must wait years for repair funding to be allocated by the National Park Service or be donated by private organizations. Some have even waited decades.”

Under Readshaw’s legislation, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation would design a plate incorporating a representation of the battlefield’s Pennsylvania Memorial and the phrase, “Gettysburg 1863.” A portion of the annual registration fee for the special plate would go into the Pennsylvania Monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park Fund.

Readshaw expects to introduce the bill later this month.


more information:

Readshaw and the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project may be contacted by e-mail at gettysburg@pahouse.net or by phone, 717-783-0411.

Updated: February 11, 2003
Copyright: 2002 Fourscore.org.
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