The U.S.S. Olympia may be headed to a watery grave

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A few months ago, one of our nation's most famous landmarks was deteriorating badly. Independence Hall had a roof leak and needed numerous expensive repairs. The city's historical commission met in April with the National Park Service to determine a course of action and on June 9, the park service announced that $4.4 million would be provided for a restoration of Independence Hall. The funding came from the stimulus bill.

A few short blocks from Independence Hall there is another icon of American history in desperate need of restoration.

The USS Olympia is moored at Penn's Landing on the Delaware River and is one of several historic vessels at the Independence Seaport Museum. The ship gained its place in history serving as Commodore George Dewey's flagship in the Battle of Manila Bay in the opening days of the Spanish-American War. It was from the deck of the Olympia that Dewey uttered those famous words "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." With these words, the attack on the Spanish fleet was launched and, within six hours, Dewey's Asiatic Squadron had sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet and silenced the guns on shore in Manila.

America's victory in the Spanish-American War was an important event in U.S. history, marking the beginning of the nation's emergence as a world power....

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