Annual Gettysburg Monuments Preservation Ball a success
State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, has declared the 13th annual Preservation Ball held recently in the Capitol Rotunda "a complete and unconditional success."
Rep. Readshaw said this year's ball included more than 180 attendees from at least 10 different states; most of the ladies wore period gowns and gentlemen donned period civilian or military attire. Attendees came from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania.
Sponsored by the Victorian Dance Ensemble of the Civil War Dance Foundation, the ball benefits the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, which Rep. 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 unit monuments and markers on the battlefield, including the iconic Pennsylvania Memorial. They mark the locations of the Pennsylvania regiments during the three-day battle in 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.
At the ball, "Call to Assembly" was played by drummer Andrew Adams, a member of the Boy Scouts of America Venture Crew 1861 Fife and Drum Corps who play the Civil War Field Music when portraying the First Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps.
Civil War-era music for the event was supplied by the Philadelphia Brigade Band, under the direction of Richard Cummines. The 17-member brass ensemble was attired in Union Army uniforms.
Rep. Readshaw welcomed the crowd and introduced David Klinepeter, portraying Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin, a strong supporter of President Abraham Lincoln, who greeted the guests by thanking them for "supporting the effort." Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Ed Clark, his wife Heidi, and son Reid, all in period clothing, were presented, as well as state Reps. Russ Diamond and Bill Kortz, and Dan Moul, who represents the area that includes the Gettysburg Battlefield, and their guests. Dennis Moul, Linda Hall, and Gettysburg Foundation's CFO Dan Bringman and their guests were also introduced.
Rep. Readshaw and state Rep. Ron Marsico prepared a citation to David Klinepeter honoring his upcoming 90th birthday. Mr. Klinepeter has been portraying Gov. Curtin for more than 25 years, outliving the governor he impersonates, who died at age 77. Mr. Readshaw presented the citation.
Participants leading the Grand March to begin the ball included Rep. Readshaw and his wife, Carol, and all of the dignitaries. Dancers were directed by dance masters Larry Keener-Farley and Jeff Trace of the Victorian Dance Ensemble.
"I am extremely pleased with the attendance, support and enthusiasm of all the participants, Civil War community and sponsors," Rep. Readshaw said. "Seeing the attendees in so many different period outfits brings the whole era to life, especially in this building that President Theodore Roosevelt declared, 'The handsomest building I ever saw.'
"We pledge to continue our efforts to restore the Pennsylvania unit monuments at the Gettysburg Battlefield, providing resources that the National Parks Service may utilize for the repair and restoration of those 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."
Rep. Readshaw can be contacted about the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project by calling his Harrisburg office at 717-783-0411, or by email at Gettysburg@pahouse.net.