On the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, about 25 people gathered in Reading on Monday to celebrate a local hero of the Civil War.
They came together at the statue of Maj. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg, whose forces joined those of Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer to rout the cavalry of Confederate Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart at Gettysburg, cutting off communications between Stuart and Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The statue of Gregg in Centre Park depicts the Civil War general on horseback with his sword drawn. Gregg, a Reading resident, died in 1916 and is buried in Charles Evans Cemetery.
Members of Gregg American Legion Post 12 in Reading came on the eve of Independence Day to rededicate the statue of the post's namesake and honor the general and other veterans.
An honor guard of Naval Sea Cadets marched in the blazing heat from the nearby John P. Feeney Funeral Home driveway to the monument along Centre Avenue.
Charles Thrush, commander of the Gregg post, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thrush recalled how Gregg led his forces against the elite cavalry of Stuart, and how Gregg and Custer cut Stuart off from Lee's main army.
Michael Feeney, owner of the funeral home, and members of the Legion post have adopted the Gregg statue for upkeep and maintenance. Feeney recalled receiving a phone call a few years ago from a woman who said that the Gregg monument was the only war memorial in Berks County that did not have an American flag next to it.
Feeney said he bought a flagpole, a U.S. flag and a two-star general's flag and placed them in front of the statue.
"We moved in here and opened Feeney Funeral Home in 1970 and the monument was already there, but no one ever took care of the property and the grass had grown wild," Feeney said. "Four years ago, we got together with the Gregg Post and began taking care of it.
"Every year for the past four years, we replace the nylon flag with 35 stars, which was the flag of the day, with a new American flag and the two stars on a major general's flag," Feeney said.
Feeney also has the gardener who cares for the funeral home property looking after the triangular plot where the monument is located.
The ceremony Monday concluded with Feeney and Gregg Post Chaplain William Bowman placing a wreath at the foot of the statue. Feeney supplied cold water, soda and light refreshments after the ceremony.
Source: Reading Eagle