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Dinniman to Mark Centennial Celebration of “Old Glory” Statue Thursday
WEST CHESTER (June 10) – State Senator Andy Dinniman will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the dedication of the “Old Glory” monument and statue at the Historic Chester County Courthouse (located at the corner of High and Market Streets) tomorrow.
Dinniman, who serves on the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and on the Board of Trustees of the Chester County Historical Society, said the statue represents more than a landmark that has served the test of time.
“The Old Glory statue is as much as part of West Chester as the courthouse clock tower and our brick lined streets,” Dinniman said. “It is synonymous with the borough’s downtown and reflects core Chester County values such as patriotism, courage, strength, honor and the importance of recognizing our veterans and service men and women.”
The statue was erected on June 11, 1915 to honor “soldiers, sailors and marines” who fought for the Union in the Civil War and the unveiling coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War. It was a massive event that was billed as the greatest celebration in the borough’s history. More than 35,000 people turned out for the celebration, which featured events throughout the weekend including concerts, various receptions and dinners, a baseball game, a “moving pictures” show and a huge parade.
The statue itself was cast in bronze by sculptor Harry Lewis Raul of Easton and the total height of the monument is 19 feet. The flag bearer, who stands 8 feet tall, is unidentified and represents all the young men who fought and fell in the Civil War. In addition, the plaque affixed to the monument’s base does not mention specific battles as it is meant to honor all veterans.
Dinniman, an educator and historian by trade, also noted that the statue was originally intended to be used for a monument in Lansdowne, Delaware County, but those plans never came to fruition and it was made available to West Chester. In addition, the flag bearer originally carried a bayonet in his right hand, which over the years went missing along with two cannons (donated West Chester native, Marine Corps Major Smedley Darlington Butler) that originally accompanied it.
“The statue itself seems to stand guard over our community. On a summer day as people enjoy the weather or eat lunch on the courthouse steps, it serves as a poignant reminder of all we owe our veterans,” Dinniman said. “Over time, it has truly become known as a monument to the veterans of all wars and all our troops currently serving in defense of our nation and the cause of freedom. We owe them so much and so it is fitting that the statue holds a prominent place in the heart of our community.
Malcolm Johnstone, who serves as Executive Director of the West Chester Business Improvement District, said the statue has personal meaning to him.
“For me and my family, there is significance beyond the timeless artistic and patriotic expression of Old Glory,” says Johnstone. “Both of my great-grandparents, John A. Johnstone and Saadi (deClifford) Johnstone, participated in the Civil War for the Union cause – he, as an officer in the Union Navy, and she, as a nurse on several battlefields. Old Glory serves the memory of their sacrifices well and I’m grateful that such a monument stands in the heart of West Chester.”
Dinniman also emphasized that West Chester and Chester County have a rich tradition of preserving its history particularly when it comes to its veterans and military heroes.
Most recently, Dinniman and others held a special event honoring the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the region’s most notable and perhaps most decorated Civil War unit. The event took place in Marshall Square Park where a monument to the men of the 97th was erected in 1887 and stands to this day.