I received the following yesterday in my inbox, from Jim Campi, communications director of the Civil War Preservation Trust: "Stop the Wilderness Wal Mart!" http://www.civilwar.org/walmart08/
I'm a member of the CWPT, and have been for many years. It has done some excellent work in buying and preserving land that literally cannot be replaced--the privately owned battlefields of the Civil War. Now, I like to think of myself as a realist on things like this. We can't save every speck of land that a boy in Blue or Gray walked across, or for that matter, undo what has already been done.
But what we, the American people, can do is stop any more of it being abused simply because it is available.
In Spotsylvania County, Virginia, west and south of the town of Fredericksburg, sits the Wilderness/Chancellorsville Battlefield. In a pair of brutal battles (Chancellorsville in 1863, the Wilderness in 1864), tens of thousands of Americans were killed and wounded. In the Wilderness, the battle was fierce and confusing, as what was normally long battle lines of men standing shoulder to shoulder became more like organized human hunting. When the wounded were left by the opposing sides, and as it was a dry winter that year and the woods caught afire during the fighting, the screams of the men as they burned to death echoed throughout the woods. Veterans decades later would break into tears at the memories of the young soldiers, boys mostly, having to spend their last moments on Earth in a living hell.
On this hallowed ground, that icon of American consumerism, Wal Mart, plans to build a 141,000 square foot SuperCenter. Where you can buy such things as Twinkies for 2 cents less, disposable cups with your favorite sports hero emblazoned on the side, all while being met by the greeter making minimum wage at the front door, helped by the stock boy who makes minimum wage, and checked out by the cashier who makes minimum wage. But hey, it brings jobs, right?
Wal Mart is building on sacred, irreplaceable land, where men in blue died to defend the Union and free the slaves, and where their brothers in gray died as well.
Ooops. I shouldn't have said "Union" and "Wal Mart" in the same sentence.
Perhaps that is why they are planning on paving our heritage. Support the saving of our heritage, so that decades from now, when a Wal Mart SuperCenter is finished sucking the resources and life from a small community and has moved on to another victim, we will still have a quiet piece of land where we can bring our children and remember what the cost of freedom truly means.