Have you even been driving through a small town or city somewhere in the United States and seen a small monument or marker honoring the military service of the town’s citizens? It happened to me this past August, and I couldn’t help but take a look at the hundreds of names and wonder what their stories were. Considering that it was a World War I monument and veterans of that war are no longer alive to tell their story, I likely will never know. Now, thanks to a program started by American Legion Post #668 in Wayne, Pa., people will have a chance to find out the stories of service members honored on monuments and markers.
Saving Hallowed Ground is a program that was recently started by the members of one American Legion Post in Pennsylvania and is dedicated to preserving monuments that commemorate veterans across the country.
Saving Hallowed Ground hopes to accomplish such a daunting task through two steps. First, they will perform conservation and preservation of the monuments themselves. Although many monuments are in good condition, there are always a few that are sadly forgotten and neglected. Eugene Hough, a member of Post #668, told the Main Line Media News that experience has shown, “there are numerous markers and monuments … that aren’t being taken care of.” This will involve visiting the site of the monument and conducting a thorough condition and preservation analysis. The aim of this analysis would be to estimate the basic costs for conservation as well as what kind of maintenance would be needed at the site in the future.
The second step is engaging students and communities in learning about the history of the monuments and the stories behind the names inscribed on them. Students may be able to learn history through textbooks, but to really understand it they must be able to connect with those that came before them. Saving Hallowed Ground will work with schools, libraries, historical societies and military and fraternal organizations to establish educational programs. These partnerships will tie the two steps together by facilitating ongoing research related to the history of the markers and the stories of the names and events commemorated. Ultimately, the educational program and the site preservation will reestablish these monuments and bring them back to life for the benefit of their communities. “Hopefully by involving the military academy, community, students, businesses we can bring to life what these truly are, living-history memorials,” Hough said. By educating students and communities about these memorials, Saving Hallowed Ground hopes to provide a better understanding of the importance of service and sacrifice.
To accomplish such an ambitious undertaking, Saving Hallowed Ground is communicating with various communities not only in Pennsylvania, but also around the country. American Legion Post #668 launched the pilot program earlier this year in Radnor, Pa., focusing on the 120 names of World War I veterans on the 1922 Radnor War Memorial. The rededication of this 90-year old memorial took place on May 16, 2012. Hough recognized how important the pilot program will be when he noted that “the most important thing we are encapsulating in this project is that we want to template this project in other communities across Pennsylvania and across the United States.”
Editor’s Note: As a 501 [c] Saving Hallowed Ground relies on contributions from donors. If you would like more information regarding Saving Hallowed Ground, contact Eugene Hough at email@example.com or 610-247-1791.