Annual Preservation Ball successful for 11th year
State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, declared the 11th annual Preservation Ball held recently in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg was “a complete and unconditional success.”
This year’s ball included more than 225 attendees from as far away as Iowa and Texas; most of the ladies wearing period gowns and gentlemen donning civilian or military attire.
Sponsored by the Victorian Dance Ensemble of the Civil War Dance Foundation, the ball benefits the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, which Mr. Readshaw founded in 1997 after reading about the deterioration of the more than 1,000 monuments in the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Pennsylvania has more than 140 monuments and markers on the battlefield including the iconic Pennsylvania Memorial. They mark the locations of the Pennsylvania regiments during the three-day battle of July 1863, pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the units, and recognize the special actions of individual soldiers and officers, many of whom lost their lives. Most were erected by the veteran survivors of the battle, assisted by allocations from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Time, weather and human contact have caused damage to these monuments.
As they entered the majestic Capitol Rotunda, ball attendees were greeted by the Boy Scouts of America Venture Crew 1861 Fife and Drum Corps portraying the Civil War Field Music of the 1st Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps.
Mr. Lemuel’s Red Mill Serenaders entertained the guests prior to the beginning and during the intermission of the ball.
The Civil War-era music for the event was supplied by the Philadelphia Brigade Band, under the direction of Richard Cummines. The 21-member brass ensemble was attired in Union Army uniforms.
Rep. Readshaw welcomed the crowd and introduced James Getty, portraying President Abraham Lincoln who greeted the guests by thanking them for “rallying to the call for support.” Newly installed Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Ed Clark, his wife Heidi, and son Reid were presented as well as state Rep. Dan Moul, who represents the area which includes the Gettysburg Battlefield, and his wife Lori.
Mr. Readshaw acknowledged the life of Francis Keenan, a Civil War enthusiast and mountain climber, who perished on a mountain in Argentina in January at the age of 28. Mr. Keenan, when 13, made a special presentation to the members of the House of Representatives on behalf of the monument project and his family asked for donations to the project in his honor.
Mr. Readshaw also recognized Cpl. Keith Foote and the members of Cooper’s Battery, who provided a Civil War honor guard during Keenan’s funeral in March.
Participants leading the Grand March to begin the ball included Rep. Readshaw and his wife Carol, and Mr. Clark, his wife and son, with the three guests in period attire. Dancers were directed by dance masters Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace of the Victorian Dance Ensemble.
“I am extremely pleased and gratified with the attendance and grand enthusiasm of all the participants, Civil War community and sponsors,” Mr. Readshaw said. “We continue our efforts to restore the Pennsylvania monuments at the Gettysburg Battlefield, providing resources that the National Parks Service may utilize for the repair and restoration of the Pennsylvania monuments.
“They are what this is all about – why the Gettysburg Monuments Project exists: to preserve the ‘icons of freedom’ of the Gettysburg National Military Park for their generation and many more to come,” Mr. Readshaw said. “The legacy of the Battle of Gettysburg and what brought our nation to those awful three days must always be remembered and respected.”