November 24, 2008

Shennandoah Battlefields Preserved

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Today I read an article in the Boston web site about an additional 209 acres being added to a expand a battlefield park:

Saving a Civil War legacy in Shenandoah Valley – The Boston Globe

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I grew up near Manassas, Virginia, and spent a lot of time on the Manassas Battlefield. The battlefield was an instant connection to the Civil War. In school, not only did you read about it but our classes could often spot mis-information in the history texts because we had unique access to local history.

I had a very personal connection to the Battlefield. When I was six, Dad took my sister and I sledding at the Battlefield. The most popular hill was the one next to the old stone house, which was a hospital during the Civil War. We went to the hill on the other side of the road. Still a good ride down, just fewer people — but more trees. I begged Dad to let me go down one more time even though he said it was too dark… but I pleaded and he finally said yes. And well… that’s when I met a tree head-on and the tree won. (I was very lucky: minor surgery on my mouth to re-attach the gum to my teeth, major scabs on my face, and that was it.) I still loved the battlefield even after the sledding accident. We still went sledding every winter (on the *other* hill).

Dad also loved the history in the battlefield and of the Civil War in general. Over the course of several summer vacations, we visited other battlefields like Appomatox and Gettysburg. I loved being able to not only learn about history but also see the places where the events happened.

As I grew up, my sisters and I watched more of the historic houses and farms be replaced by construction until most of the Battlefield was surrounded by subdivisions and shopping centers. My parents bemoaned what happened, but were powerless to stop it.

It is so nice to read about land being added to another battlefield park instead of being sold to developers. It’s also amazing that a farm has stayed in the same family for eight generations. Amazing.

Dad would have loved it.

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