Pennsylvanians know their history. They also cherish it.

Never was that made more obvious that in a recent public-opinion poll conducted by Mason Dixon Polling and Research.

The poll revealed that Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly oppose plans for a casino earmarked for a half mile from the historic Gettysburg Battlefield.

Number us among those who oppose the casino and its location.

According to the poll, fully two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters actively oppose the idea of a casino at Gettysburg and nearly 60 percent favor pending legislation that would block future attempts at similar proposals. Further, 57 percent state that, if approved, such a Gettysburg casino would be an embarrassment to Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg, as most school children can tell you, was the site of what was arguably the Civil War's most important battle. Thousands of Americans, on both sides, died in the confrontation, in a battle that changed the complexion of the war in favor of the the North.

For decades, the site has been a solemn reminder of the courage and sacrifices made by Americans during that battle. Taking a tour of the battlefield leaves a lasting impression on almost everyone who has visited the site.

Investors in favor of the casino are seeking a license on Thursday of this week from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to operate a resort casino. If approved, their project would bring thousands of slot machines and table games just one half mile from the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park.

Pennsylvania has opened many casinos and gambling facilities throughout the state in the past several years. The Commonwealth now rivals Atlantic City as a place to gamble. But Gettysburg isn't the proper place to erect another facility of this kind. Let's let history alone, and let's preserve the dignity that Gettysburg deserves.

We're hoping that former local legislator, Keith McCall, who recently was named to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and his fellow members, will recognize Gettysburg for what it is, a near-sacred place that houses some of the state's most important history. And when it comes time to vote on Thursday, the board members will say no to a Gettysburg Casino.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]