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St. Louis arch lights plan upsets park agency

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

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

''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.

''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 Senator Jim Talent, Republican of Missouri, whose mother died of breast cancer in 1988.

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

The arch, designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and completed in 1965, has been illuminated at night by white lights since 2001.

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