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December 28th, 2009 11:27 pm
Lockheed Crosses the Delaware
Posted by Print

In this, the hair of the dog week of the holiday season, there’s cause for good cheer on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. That’s where Lockheed Martin pledged $400,000 to keep alive the state park commemorating George Washington’s daring 1776 Christmas crossing of the Delaware River — a bold act that led to the colonies’ victories in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and breathed life into what looked like a losing American cause.

I have to admit an emotional attachment to this issue. A year ago, in the waning days of the Bush Administration, I used the Christmas version of the President’s radio address to tout the amazing story of Washington’s Crossing to the American people. With the holiday weekend allowing a rare respite from the White House’s around-the-clock schedule, I spent a Saturday making the drive from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, to the banks of the Delaware River that the father of our country had crossed 232 years earlier.   It was a sight at once inspiring and tragic.

On those shores, where the dreams of an independent republic could well have foundered, is an aging and dilapidated visitor center that looks like it hasn’t been updated or improved for 30 years. Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of the crossing (which at the time was hanging in the lobby of the West Wing) was replicated on a grand scale — but in an empty auditorium with buckets to catch the leaks from the roof and seating that looked like it had been pried from a condemned elementary school.

The center was reportedly facing closure because of cuts in the Pennsylvania state budget. That’s a shame. If conservatives and liberals can agree to spend money on anything, it ought to be on commemorating the great moments and great men in American history. And frankly (my only call for greater federal power in 2009 is coming in three … two …), as a place of national significance, there’s no reason that the federal government shouldn’t be picking up this ball if Pennsylvania is intent on dropping it.  In the meantime, thanks be to Lockheed. And if you’d like to lend your support, you can do so here.

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