Battlefields 1 Walmart 0

Civil War battlefields are under assault… this idea sounds peculiar but it is an issue that should concern every American.  Trouble is, few people hear about historical land being developed until the bulldozers are rolling.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Civil War Trust fight to preserve historic sites, especially Civil War battlefields.  Nearly 80% of the land the Civil War was fought on is threatened by development.

Orange County, Virginia approved… a special permit for retail giant Walmart to construct a “SuperCenter” on the Wilderness Battlefield in 2009.  The Civil War Trust was joined by historians James M. McPherson, Ken Burns, and David McCullough in protesting Walmart’s decision and searching for alternatives.  The site would have clogged traffic at two major thoroughfares which provide the only access to the battlefield:

The Plan of Attack

Looking to the better angels of their nature… Walmart halted their plans in January 2011.  Representatives promised to work with Orange County to find a more suitable site for all  involved.  In addition, Walmart has pledged to keep the land and prevent any further development.

Developers will continue to argue… that any lands outside National or State park control should be open to development.  This type of corporate driven view loses sight of the broader historical perspective.  In the case of Orange County, Virginia, local officials were blinded by potential tax revenues and sold out their history by granting the permit.  The construction of a 240,000 sq. foot facility would have drastically affected the battlefield and its visitors.  Preservationists are not short-sighted as often claimed, they work to preserve our history for the sake of posterity.  Our history is too important to be sacrificed for the allure of convenience.

Gaines Mill is next

Most endangered battlefields…

Gaines Mill is under assault

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1 Comment

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One response to “Battlefields 1 Walmart 0

  1. This story is somewhat personal since it takes place just a few miles from my house amidst the battlefields of Chancellor, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, etc. Ironically, the battlefield site where Wal-Mart originally chose to build (and which the private owner of that parcel of land agreed to sell) is at one edge already populated by a strip mall, gas station and liquor store. Nonetheless Wal-Mart eventually followed the path of less resistance and built just a few miles from the original location. One thing they quickly figured out: Virginia preservationists are a determined bunch(!)

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