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What Do Pennsylvania and Germany Have in Common?

Neither Germany nor Pennsylvania really cares about their war dead.

I suppose I could have named this post “Pennsylvania Government to World War I Veterans and War Dead: Screw You on Memorial Day”

I have stated my cynicism about governments ability to even do the most basic things right, and how the American Battle Monuments Commission has really delighted me.

Jen and I had finished our planned itinerary and were driving from the Meuse Argonne battlefield to the Champagne region, when we literally stumbled across the Pennsylvania World War I memorial in Varennes, France.  We visited this memorial at around 2:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday May 16, 2017.  This memorial should have special poignancy for several reasons.  Jen and I live in Pennsylvania.  Grandpop, when he joined the Army, was a Pennsylvania citizen with all of his family ties in Philadelphia.  As designed, it is a beautiful monument:

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Overlooking now beautiful ground:

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It was put in place by Pennsylvanians who wished to honor the war dead.

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What we found was a limestone monument that requires minimal maintenance, but for a period of years, had obviously received none.  The irony of course is that as best as I can determine, the Monument is under the care of The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) and the PHMC brags on their home page:

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) budget is less than 6/100 of 1 percent of the commonwealth’s annual budget, but its vital work serves every resident in Pennsylvania.

We collect, safeguard and share our state’s most treasured documents and objects.

Some objects are more equal than others I suppose.  Also out of sight, out of mind is at play here too.  The standard is the memorials as maintained by the US Government.

Some of the problems could be solved with a broom, a little landscaping, and some lawn care. Others issues require some stone work.  None appear to meet any kind of standard.  Jen and I spent 20 minutes at the monument and found these problems; I bet a professional could do better.

No flag, American or Pennsylvanian on the flag post:

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There were broken street lamps, with glass that is atypical from the other street lamps:

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The Grass needed mowing and was weedy:

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The paths were weedy and needed fresh stone:

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The trees needed trimming:

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There was rubbish everywhere:

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The perimeter of the monument was weed strewn, and had loose stones everywhere:

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Are the PHMC are doing a stellar job of “safeguarding” this bit of Pennsylvania history?  Not, by any sensible standard.

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