State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, has been honored by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association for his years of work to preserve the legacy of the site of the Civil War's pivotal battle.
At the organization's annual dinner on November 20 in Gettysburg, Mr. Readshaw was presented with the Batchelder Award for Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement in Historical Preservation.
"This was quite an achievement for somebody, who until he was well into his fifties had never set foot in Gettysburg," said GBPA President Kathi Schue. "Now he is the person most identified with rescuing many of the more than 1,000 monuments and markers on the battlefield, along with the historic Daniel Lady Farm and a large chunk of the site of the post-battle field hospital, Camp Letterman."
The award had special meaning this year. It is the 50th anniversary of the GBPA, the nation's oldest Civil War Battlefield preservation organization.
The plaque presented Mr. Readshaw salutes him "for the establishment of the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monument Project and the many years of enthusiastic dedication and service of your tireless efforts to fund the restoration and endowment of the monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield and the restoration of the Daniel Lady Farm. Your support continues the preservation efforts of our American heritage and these icons of freedom for our future generations."
"It's funny how one tiny occurrence can blossom into something like this," said Rep. Readshaw. "I had read a newspaper article about the poor condition of many of the monuments and I cut out the article, scribbled, ‘can't we do something about this,' and put it on Kathi's desk back when she was my legislative assistant. Well, we did."
Mr. Readshaw formed the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, which secured funding for the more than 140 Pennsylvania monuments and markers on the battlefield to be cleaned and any vandalism or wear repaired. He's now working to establish a perpetual trust for each of the monuments so they can receive adequate maintenance for generations to come.
Rep. Readshaw was also instrumental in helping the GBPA with its restoration of the Daniel Lady Farm house and barn, which served as field hospitals during the Battle of Gettysburg. The house was also used as a Confederate headquarters and Gen. Robert E. Lee is documented to have rested there for several hours on the first night of the battle.
In recent years, it has been determined that a significant portion of the massive Camp Letterman field hospital established after the battle to treat wounded and dying soldiers from the North and South was located on a portion of the 146-acre farm.
"Party affiliation has never been a factor in the Monuments Project or with the Lady Farm, only one's desire to preserve the ‘icons of freedom' at Gettysburg for many Americans to come," Rep. Readshaw said.
A phrase that has motivated Mr. Readshaw and his followers in the preservation effort, sometimes called "Readshaw's Raiders," has been "Poor is the nation that has no heroes; shameful the one having them that forgets."
Information about the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project and the historic Daniel Lady Farm can be obtained by contacting Readshaw's Harrisburg office at 717-783-0411 or by e-mail at Gettysburg@pahouse.net.