House approves Missouri’s Gateway Arch to be illuminated in colors of Ukrainian flag
The House passed a bill on Tuesday that gives the National Park Service authorization to illuminate the Gateway Arch in St. Louis blue and yellow in support of Ukraine as it remains engaged in a battle with Russia.
The legislation, titled the Gateway Solidarity Act, passed in a 365-57 vote, with all opposition coming from the Republican Party. Seven Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.
The measure was passed as part of a group of five bills related to national parks and heritage areas.
The legislation specifically directs the Interior secretary to light up the Gateway Arch blue and yellow for at least five consecutive days within 15 days of the legislation passing, and annually on Aug. 24, Ukrainian Independence Day, until the president informs Congress that Russia has stopped its “destabilizing activities” against Ukraine.
The Gateway Arch has only been illuminated in color twice previously, according to Fox 2 Now: It was lit up pink in October 2004 to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it was lit up gold in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the monument.
Park Superintendent Jeremy Sweat told KSDK in March that “park policy does not allow for commemorative lighting of the Gateway Arch” because the location receives too many requests to accommodate. Changing the color of the monument requires action from Washington.
Passage of the bill comes nearly five months to the day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has taken control of a number of regions in Ukraine since it began its offensive on Feb. 24.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the battle between the two countries could come to an end by the close of the year.
“We can achieve a lot of things before the end of the year and we can stop this war,” he told CNN.
“We are going to fight for every inch of our territory. It’s clear that we can’t get it all back,” he added.
The House approved the bill one day before Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, is scheduled to address Congress.
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the lead sponsor of the bill, hailed its passage in a statement on Tuesday while criticizing Moscow’s assault.
“Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation continue their unconscionable assault on the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion began, over 5 million civilians have been forced from their homes and thousands have lost their lives, including countless innocent women and children. We have heard numerous stories illustrating the brutality of this invasion and the potential war crimes being committed by the Putin regime,” she said.
“In response to this horrific assault, landmarks across the globe have been lit up in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” she added.
The Missouri Republican called the monument “a symbol of pride for the people of St. Louis and the State of Missouri.”
“The defining structure of the St. Louis skyline, the Arch can be seen for miles throughout the region. I am proud to have the support of the entire Missouri delegation on this legislation which will authorize the National Park Service to light up the Arch with the colors of the Ukrainian flag on Ukrainian Independence Day, August 24, each year until Vladimir Putin abandons his deadly invasion,” she added.