House passes bill honoring First Sergeant Alexander Kelly

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today announced that his legislation, H.B. 2420, which designates the naming of a bridge after an African-American Civil War soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, unanimously passed the House.

If voted into law, a portion of Pennsylvania Route 286 would be named the First Sergeant Alexander Kelly Memorial Bridge. It is located on what is also known as Washington Street, over the Kiskiminetas River between Saltsburg Borough in Indiana County and in Loyalhanna Township in Westmoreland County.

Petrarca said Kelly, who was born on April 7, 1840, in Saltsburg, serves as an important historical and honorable figure within his district, the commonwealth and the nation.

“First Sergeant Alexander Kelly is an American hero who enlisted and rose to the rank of sergeant in the Sixth United States Colored Troops,” Petrarca said. “During the Civil War, he helped fellow soldiers through his bravery and leadership and it’s only fitting that we honor him by naming a bridge in his memory.”

Kelly was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in seizing the flag, and rallying the troops during a time of confusion. After the war, Kelly served as a watchman for the Pittsburgh Police. He died on June 19, 1907, and is buried in St. Peters Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

“Sergeant Kelly’s sacrifice and service will never be forgotten,” Petrarca said. “His accomplishments are truly admirable.”

House Bill 2420 now heads to the full Senate for consideration. If approved by the Senate, Petrarca’s legislation will head to the governor’s desk.