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Veterans want to place soldier statue in front of courthouse

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 11:02 a.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
A statue of a Union soldier keeps watch over the Westmoreland County Courthouse lobby in Greensburg on Dec. 16, 2013. The statue previously stood in front of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Donations are being sought in order to restore and erect the statue on the courthouse grounds.

Westmoreland County's 20-ton monument to war veterans could be stationed in front of the courthouse by Memorial Day.

The 6-foot statue of a Civil War Union soldier is bivouacking in the courthouse's interior lobby this winter as officials try to raise money to pay for its permanent move to the front outer corner of the Main Street building in Greensburg.

The statue was placed in storage in July, when it was removed from the front of the nearby Westmoreland Museum of American Art as part of a $30 million renovation project there.

The monument was moved to courthouse over the weekend.

“I think it is important we recognize our veterans and the efforts of the group that originally erected the statue,” said Matt Zamosky, director of the county Office of Veterans Affairs.

Zamosky said about $30,000 still needs to be raised.

The statue originally was erected in 1925 by the Westmoreland County Soldier and Sailor Veterans Association and placed in front of what was once Greensburg City Hall.

That property later became the museum site, where the statue remained for decades.

Zamosky said it is important to preserve the statue. “Moving it to the courthouse is an ideal solution,” he said.

A memorial plaque to the county's fallen World War I soldiers is displayed at the front entrance of the courthouse, which was dedicated in 1908.

The Union soldier sat atop a 20-foot pedestal for 88 years less than a mile away. For now, he sits above a 3-inch wooden pallet in the middle of a main corridor that leads to the old courthouse building as veterans groups attempt to raise money to repair, clean and re-erect the statue and pedestal. About $70,000 has been raised.

Donations have been collected since last summer, including a $28,000 anonymous contribution and $820 from American Legion Post 982 in Unity.

County engineer Gary Vautard said laborers spent time over the summer clearing space for the 20-ton statue and pedestal. Vautard said plans call for the statue to be moved to its new station by Memorial Day.

“We want him to get a little exposure,” Vautard said of the statue's present post.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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