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No Preservation Without Interpretation
There has been a good deal of activity at Gettysburg National Military Park in recent months. A major rehabilitation project is ongoing atop Little Round Top, which will remain closed for next year and a half. The Devil’s Den reopened to visitors this past week after the park staff addressed a number of issues related to erosion and visitor safety.
Over on Seminary Ridge, work continues on restoring the Virginia (Robert E. Lee) Memorial. All three of these project involve park assets that must be tended to, but this last project comes with its own unique baggage and controversy.
I understand the necessity of maintaining this particular monument, along with the hundreds of other monuments that dot the Gettysburg landscape. At the same time I appreciate the concerns of people who question whether the financial investment is justified.
After all, while hundreds of communities across the country are removing Confederate monuments, Gettysburg is preserving them.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. As I have said before, I believe that Gettysburg’s Confederate monuments can help educate the public about a host of issues related to the history of the Civil War, Civil War memory, and the history of race in America.
I would have felt much easier about this restoration project if the same amount of money (if not more) could be found for interpretive purposes. A few interpretive markers have been placed along Confederate Avenue, but this still seems like a missed opportunity to continue this important.
Gettysburg’s Confederate monuments have become rallying points for white supremacists in recent years. This must be addressed.
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