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RESTORE AND DISPLAY MILITARY BATTLE FLAGS

After reading The News' editorial touting the state's actions regarding Old Fort Niagara and the efforts of the Old Fort Niagara Association to restore a historic garrison flag, I felt it would be appropriate to call attention to the need to restore and protect all of New York's historically significant battle flags.

Under our state's Military Law, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs has been charged with the restoration, preservation and conservation of New York's military battle flags.

More specifically, the Temporary Advisory Committee on the Restoration and Display of New York State's Military Battle Flags is responsible for advancing an agenda that would effectively restore and display these military treasures.

Shamefully, we have not taken an aggressive posture with respect to this endeavor. At present, many of the 1,700 flags are being stored and conserved at the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation laboratory on an interim basis. The facility is not appropriate for storage of the flags, nor is it environmentally conducive for a prolonged presence of the battle flags.

Although there are two full-time conservators working on this project, we have not allocated the resources needed to effectively safeguard these flags, which span a period from the War of 1812 to World War II.

All parties agree that these flags should be restored and displayed in one central location, with a technique that would treat them and then immediately place them into permanent storage trays. They should also be exhibited in a manner that would protect the flags while offering New Yorkers a glimpse of our stellar military history.

As we proceed with our protracted budget negotiations, we should make this restoration effort one of our priorities. State taxpayers deserve to see this link to their past, and should seek the support of their elected officials in this effort.

SEN. WILLIAM T. STACHOWSKI

58th District

Buffalo

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