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|Posted: Tue Feb 21st, 2006 09:07 pm||
Readshaw resolution to seek increase in park vandalism penalty
HARRISBURG, Feb. 21 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, today said he is preparing to introduce a resolution that would request the U.S. Congress to increase the minimum penalty for flagrantly vandalizing monuments, buildings and other assets on National Military Park property.
Readshaw’s resolution follows last week's vandalism that severely damaged three Gettysburg Battlefield monuments erected more than a century ago to memorialize the courage and sacrifice of Union troops from three states during the 1863 battle that marked the turning point of the Civil War. The ravaged monuments include a bronze statue of a soldier of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry that was toppled from its base.
Another bronze statue honoring the 4th New York Battery at Devil’s Den was pulled from its pedestal and dragged more than 100 feet. The head of the statue broke off and was taken. In addition, part of a granite sculpture in tribute of the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry along Emmitsburg Road not far from the fallen 114th PVI monument was also pulled down.
Photographs of the damage can be viewed on the Internet at http://www.civilwarinteractive.com.
The monuments were all located within the park, so federal laws would apply in prosecuting suspects. Readshaw believes that minimum penalties should be enacted to adequately address destruction of the magnitude inflicted on Gettysburg last week.
“These acts showed sickening disregard for public property, for the brave Americans that they memorialized, and for the impact that such an attack on a site held in such high regard for what it means to the heritage and spirit of our nation, especially during a time when American forces are involved in fighting overseas,” Readshaw said. “If a person is willing to do something as dark as this, what are they capable of doing next?"
Readshaw said that the penalties should be increased for gross destruction of National Military Park property, especially by establishing minimum penalties that would ensure a perpetrator doesn’t get off with little more than a slap on the wrist.
If Congress chooses to toughen the penalties for the future, the new law would not pertain to last week's destruction.
Since 1997, Readshaw has been engaged in two campaigns to preserve the more than 140 Pennsylvania monuments and markers at Gettysburg. Readshaw first became involved in efforts to ensure that current repair and maintenance needs were funded. Readshaw is now championing a drive to create a trust fund for each of the monuments to pay for future regular maintenance needs.
But last week’s vandalism has put the trust fund drive on hold as Readshaw has set up a fund drive to repair all three of the vandalized monuments, and has committed the proceeds from an upcoming ball in the Capitol Rotunda to the fund.
The annual Civil War Preservation Ball, sponsored by the Victorian Dance Ensemble, will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 25. It is open to people in appropriate Civil War attire or modern suits and ties for gentlemen and dresses for ladies. Tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple. Music will be provided by the 28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band.
Readshaw also appealed to private citizens and businesses to donate to get the monuments expeditiously repaired and back in place. Money collected for the Gettysburg Monuments Repair Fund will be turned over to the Gettysburg National Military Park as restoration work is ready to begin. The special fund will be established within the existing Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project.
Donations should be mailed to:
Gettysburg Monuments Repair Fund
c/o Rep. Harry Readshaw
122 Irvis Office Building
House Box 202020
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
Readshaw initially was going to direct the fund drive only to the repair of the Pennsylvania monument, but then realized that all the monuments in the park are equally important in relaying the story of the epic struggle in Adams County that set the course for America’s future.
More information about the monument repair fund and the Preservation Ball can be obtained by calling Readshaw’s Harrisburg Office at 717-783-0411, or by e-mail at Gettysburg@pahouse.net.