By Donna Reed
with permission from Berks County Living
October. If there is a more beautiful time to explore Berks County, it’s tough to imagine. These are the days to savor walks or drives that offer different perspectives on the natural and manmade features that comprise our landscape. Monuments and memorials, often located at focal points throughout the community, are among those. This month as you travel the bigger – and sometimes more obscure – byways of Berks, there are some monuments worth checking out.
The Perks of the Park
The best place to begin your journey is Penn’s Common, at City Park in Reading, which has more monuments and memorials per acre than any other spot in Berks.
The newly rehabilitated Veterans’ Memorial Grove is the site of several annual ceremonies honoring countians who served, fought and gave the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.
Thanks to the Berks County Monument Preservation Committee created and led by state Reps. Mark Rozzi and Tom Caltagirone, in coordination with the Historical Society of Berks County, the old monuments are getting a fresh look.
The committee, including many local veterans, first tackled the World War I monument, along with the cannons and flagpole that flank it. Restoration costs exceeded $10,000. Various veterans' groups have also partnered with this committee.
Chad Schlanger, Rozzi’s chief of staff, along with the legislator and volunteers have worked to beautify the grove with upgraded landscaping and a “Freedom Path” walkway constructed by Connelly Lawn and Garden and comprised of bricks bearing the names of veterans and active service members.
“The Berks County Monument Preservation Fund is excited to have already raised ample funds through our brick sales endeavor to not only complete the entire brick walkway, which will connect all the Veterans’ memorials in City Park, but we also have secured sufficient funding to install a real-time camera system into the park,” says Schlanger. “The camera system will be wired into the city police department’s camera network to allow them to monitor the park and memorials in real time from City Hall. Bricks will continue to be sold for the next one to two years and will be regularly placed into the path.” More information is available by visiting berksforvets.com