FILE PHOTO: GATEWAY ARCH
David Kennedy  /  AP file
A national park ranger watches over the grounds at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
updated 10/20/2004 3:01:29 PM ET 2004-10-20T19:01:29

The National Park Service is upset over a plan to illuminate the Gateway Arch in pink on Monday in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Spokesman Dave Barna said Wednesday the Park Service is not opposed to the cause, but rather the precedent it sets for possible future uses of the 630-foot-tall arch, which the agency is charged with maintaining.

“If you allow a certain type of event with one organization, you open it up to everyone else,” he said. “You have to assume there’ll be some individual who’ll want to do this in some protest manner.

Case against illumination
“We consider these monuments sacred sites. The color or the style or the function was all the result of those architects and design. They’re pieces of art, and we don’t want to see changes, even temporarily.”

Congress approved illuminating the arch at the urging of Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., whose mother died of the disease in 1998.

“Virtually everyone you talk to has some connection to the disease,” Talent said earlier this month. Lighting the arch “will also send a message that we are searching for a cure” while promoting awareness and early testing, he said.

The arch has been illuminated at night by white lights since 2001. Designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, the stainless steel structure was built as a monument to the spirit of western pioneers and was completed in 1965.

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