Lowell at Blue Virginia has reasonably asked on the location:
Maybe I’m missing something here, like the (supposedly) urgent need to build retail right on top of a battlefield where 145,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought and more than 29,000 were killed or injured. Can’t this store be located a mile down the road or something? What do you think?
Seems like a sensible question – just not to Wal-Mart. The Washington Post further reports that:
[Civil War Preservation] Trust president Jim Lighthizer called on Wal-Mart to reconsider its decision to build within the footprint of the Wilderness Battlefield, near Fredericksburg, pointing to what he called, “nationwide anger generated by its proposal.”
“The ball is now in Wal-mart’s court,” he said. “It’s in the corporation’s best interest to work with the preservation community to find an alternative site. …We are optimistic that company officials will see the wisdom of moving somewhere else.”
That doesn’t sound likely, according to Wal-Mart regional spokesman Keith Morris. In an interview he said, “Two years ago, the county decided this site was one where growth should occur. We have looked at alternative sites and there are other sites but they require rezoning. There is no guarantee the county would approve another site.”
Morris pointed to the county planning commission’s second and little-noticed Aug. 20 4-3 vote that reversed a decision of the night before, when that commission deadlocked on the issue. A deadlock is considered a negative vote. Morris said that second vote was an indication of the county’s strong interest in seeing the store built at the proposed site.
There is a possibility that the Trust, as the lead organization of the Wilderness Coalition, will turn to the courts and appeal the board’s decision. Officials are debating their next step now.
Again, please help by writing a letter on the Civil War Preservation Trust’s website and spreading the word online.
Fortunately, much of the battlefield IS already protected, but it’s also important to keep lines of sight and easements unobstructed. Visitors need to be able to get a sense of what the soldiers themselves saw and otherwise experienced on the day of battle and needless to say, Wal-Mart wasn’t part of it. I’m expecting to see Creigh Deeds at an event Wednesday night so I’ll be sure to thank him if I get a chance to speak with him directly. I do write decision makers from time to time, but unfortunately am not in a position to contribute financially to such things right now. This diary gets an automatic “recommend” from me just for the principle of historic preservation.
That said, this is one matter where I am 100% behind you.
Normally I am the first to stand up and defend Wal-Mart from the far left that unfairly attacks it from time to time. The far left whether it is on the asinine Big Box Ordinance out here in Chicago, which btw would have provided poor black people with good paying jobs with health care as well as fresh groceries which is lacking on the South Side, or on its labor and health practices which are actually quite good for a company of its size and scope, is usually irrational and overzealous when talking about Wal-Mart.
p>Yet here my instincts as a historian take over. There is absolutely no reason to build on sacred ground like this. The proposed Wal-Mart in question could easily be built somewhere else. Moreover it is important we save all our battlefields. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never been to Gettysburg, or even Lexington. These places are sacred pieces of our national heritage that should be preserved instead of destroyed, hallowed instead of hollowed out and paved over. Blood was spilt here, most of which was spent in securing our freedom, and in the case of this particular battlefield the freedom of African Americans as well. I have a simple solution for Wal-Mart-DONT BUILD.
I am a little bit of a Civil War buff and have tremendous respect for the battles, the battlefields, the soldiers and the history. That said, Walmart contends that the area where they want to build the store is not near or on the actual battlefield.
p>Here is just snipet from a story I found.
p>Now I am the first to say that any poll/study/survey paid for by the potential beneficiary of the results has to be questioned… but if in fact the area is not on the battle field, is already zoned for commercial business and already has some businesses on it then is it really as bad as the initial story describes?
The historians will need to sort out exactly what constitutes the battlefield. The narrowest definition would limit it to specifically where soldiers fought and fell, but could include surrounding encampments and signficant sites that existed then. As I alluded to upthread the Civil War Preservation Trust is also interested in sightlines and easements. This is always going to be a delicate balance. I was at the Wilderness a couple of weeks ago and certainly would not want to see a Wal-Mart in the distance as I was touring the battlefield. Some battlefields are even very particular about natural growth of trees and such because they are trying to keep the whole atmosphere as close to that of the day of battle as possible.
You wouldn’t want to build a Wal-Mart right next to a State Park would you? The increased traffic, noise, pollution, and just annoyance of having a Wal-Mart even near the battlefield kind of dilutes it’s sacredness.