Finally, an issue that Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress can agree on: preserving Civil War battlegrounds. No, it isn’t the sexiest or most important issue imaginable, but it could be an opportunity for both major political parties to renew old lines of communication, heal simmering wounds, and simply remember that there ARE some issues which ‘both sides’ hold in common.
The American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act (here comes the acronym! ABPPAA), unveiled on Friday by its sponsor Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia (Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi is the co-sponsor), will reauthorize the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program (CWBPP) “that provides competitive federal grants to match private and non-profit donations.” Thus, the ABPPAA (yes, this acronym is ridiculously long) seeks to preserve historical Civil War battlegrounds.
Kaine explained, “Historical battlegrounds serve as living reminders of our nation’s past. In Virginia, we have more Civil War battlefields than any other state, and I am committed to working with both parties and members of our delegation to ensure this hallowed ground is preserved for local citizens and tourists who visit these sites.”
According to Markus Schmidt, writing for the Richmond Times Dispatch (whose new website design is just as absurdly difficult to navigate as their paper is difficult to read. Love you RTD!), “Since the CWBPP was first initiated in 2002, more than 17,500 acres of high-priority Civil War battle sites have been preserved to boost tourism and conserve land while preserving the nation’s heritage. The Civil War Trust estimates there are still more than 50,000 acres of unprotected battlefield land in Virginia that meet the criteria of this program.”
But preserving land for the public good is socialism, right? I kid my conservative brothers and sisters for their hysterical hypocrisy. It’s only socialism if conservatives don’t agree with what is being socialized!
As uninterested in Civil War history as I am, it should be recognized that this war has played, and in some ways still plays, an immeasurable role in our country. It is a history, a past, that Americans should not forget, the violence, the hate, the misperceptions, all of it.
We are only as good as the lessons we learn. Preserving America’s Civil War battlegrounds is a good way to ensure that this portion of our history is not soon forgotten (unless there is a natural resource somewhere near the battleground!).