Month:

May, 2013

For those interested in attending the June 8 sesquicentennial tour of Brandy Station, we’re nearly done with laying out the itinerary for the tour. I’m confident that it’s going to be a once in a lifetime tour.

Stand by just a bit longer, and we will announce the details here as soon as the final details are pinned down. It will definitely be prior to the tour date.

We thank you for your patience.

For those interested in attending this free tour, please click here.

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052313_gettystatue23_600From today’s issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Rescued ‘Silent Sentinel’ Civil War statue going to Laurel Hill Cemetery
EDWARD COLIMORE, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 5:52 AM

For nearly a century, the Silent Sentinel watched over the graves of Civil War veterans at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Yeadon and Southwest Philadelphia.

The bronze figure of a Union soldier clasping the end of a musket stood at rest amid long, neat rows of white marble headstones.

Then, as though deserting its post in fall 1970, the statue disappeared. Thieves pulled it from its granite base and tried to sell it to a Camden scrap dealer, who alerted police.

Silent Sentinel was recovered, repaired at a Chester foundry, and stored out of public view for more than 40 years, until a secure location could be found and money raised for a granite base.

On Wednesday – just days before Memorial Day, an observance with Civil War origins – the monument was moved to Laurel Hill Cemetery on Ridge Avenue to take up a new post and an old mission.

By this time next year, it will be affixed to a 10- to 12-foot-high granite base and illuminated at night at the Gen. George Gordon Meade Post No. 1 Grand Army of the Republic burial plot at Laurel Hill, officials said.

The figure is a natural fit for the Victorian-era cemetery, a kind of Civil War Valhalla where dozens of generals and admirals are buried, including Meade, the victorious commander at the Battle of Gettysburg. The 150th anniversary of that epic clash will be marked with a reenactment from July 3 to 7.

“We’re returning this monument to its sacred task,” said historian Andy Waskie, a member of the board of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery and an associate member of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), which owns the statue.

In its new location, “the statue will add a new dimension to the Civil War and arts collection of the city,” said Waskie, a Temple University professor and author of Philadelphia and the Civil War – Arsenal of the Union.

The move to Laurel Hill is “a wonderful outcome,” said Jon Sirlin, a Philadelphia lawyer and associate member of MOLLUS who wrote the transfer agreement. A statue “that was otherwise hidden from view is now coming to light.”

The bronze will eventually be visible to passersby on busy Ridge Avenue, illuminated at night “like an eternal flame in Philadelphia, honoring all veterans,” Waskie said.

Also known as Silent Sentry, the monument has a colorful history. It was the work of a French immigrant, Achille Bureau, who served in the Union Army and was buried at Laurel Hill.

During a Memorial Day-related ceremony at noon Sunday, reenactors and others will dedicate a marble headstone at Bureau’s grave and a bronze-on-granite marker at the grave of another Union soldier, Lt. Charles Waterman. They’ll also fire volleys at each site and over Meade’s grave and Grand Army of the Republic burial plot.

Bureau’s statue was commissioned in 1883 by the Soldiers’ Home of Philadelphia, a civilian organization that helped care for indigent and disabled Civil War veterans, Waskie said. The home bought a plot at Mount Moriah for soldiers who died while under care there.

The 700-pound monument was dedicated in 1884 and remained in place until October 1970, when the thieves stole it, then tried to break it up and sell the bronze as scrap.

Finding a safe home for the statue delayed its move to a public site. MOLLUS wanted to prevent another theft and further vandalism, so it stored the statue, valued at $20,000, at the foundry until Waskie proposed the move to Laurel Hill.

“It was too much of a risk to take it back” to the unfenced Mount Moriah, said Adam Flint, commander of the Pennsylvania Commandery of MOLLUS.

Laurel Hill “is a National Historic Landmark that’s well secured and safe,” said Waskie, who formed a fund-raising committee for the transfer.

Nearly $25,000 has been collected for a granite base, plaque, installation, and lighting, said Alexander “Pete” Hoskins, president and CEO of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, and executive director of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery.

“First, we’re part of saving an important monument that’s been out of view for more than 40 years,” Hoskins said. “This also helps remind the world that we are one of the most important Civil War burial sites.”

The statue, standing up to 18 feet high on its base, will be placed in the Meade plot amid the graves of about 24 Civil War veterans, including some who fought at Gettysburg. It’s now on display in the cemetery’s gatehouse office.

“It’s a gorgeous monument that is finally being returned to its mission,” Waskie said.

I’m tickled to see this soldier return to duty, as he should be. I’m sure he will do a fine job of standing guard over the grave of George Gordon Meade.

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photoShown in the photo with me is my friend David Raymond, who wrote the foreword to You Stink! Major League Baseball’s Terrible Teams and Pathetic Players. Unless you’re either a long-time, die-hard Phillies fan, or a die-hard fan of the University of Delaware’s football program, the likelihood is that you don’t know who Dave is. Click on the photo to see a larger image.

imagesThe other photo is Dave’s alter ego, the Phillie Phanatic. Dave was the original Phillie Phanatic. He wore the green suit from the time that the character was introduced in 1978 through the 1993 World Series season, and then he passed the suit on to the current Phanatic’s Phriend, Tom Burgoyne. Dave then founded Raymond Entertainment Group, where his self-bestowed (but very accurate) title is Emperor of Fun and Games.

One of the products delivered by the Raymond Entertainment Group is fun. And by fun, I mean The Fun Department. Since 2006 The Fun Department has been delivering Fun to corporations throughout the tri-state area. “We are out to make corporate America smile one face at a time”, says Dave. The Power of Fun is a message that Dave delivers everyday with Raymond Entertainment and The Fun Department. Dave regularly gives his Power of Fun speech to groups in the hope of teaching them that bringing joy, laughter and fun to every day life is not only therapeutic, it is good business. After years of delivering this message in person, Dave decided that it was time to deliver the message of Fun to the masses by writing a book.

And then Dave asked me to be his co-author for the project, which will be called The Power of Fun. We’re still mapping out the contents of the book and precisely what it will cover, but Dave and I both think that this collaboration will be great fun, and that it is important for us to preach the gospel of Fun.

And so, I will be tackling a project very much unlike anything else that I have ever done. Life is all about challenging oneself and stretching one’s limitations. There is much to learn by this project, and there is much for us to teach. I’m greatly looking forward to working with Dave to spread the word about the Power of Fun. Please stay tuned for periodic updates.

In case any of you are interested in booking Dave for a presentation on the Power of Fun, you can reach him by clicking here.

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