Today's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has a front page story and an an editorial about the ongoing battle with Wal-Mart over its planned superstore that threatens the Wilderness Battlefield. They take very different tacks, one pointing out the good work that Wal-Mart has done in the past when challenged to find a more sensitive location, and the other imploring the Orange County Board of Supervisors to do the right thing to honor the soldiers who fought and died on the land.
In certain instances, Wal-Mart collaborated with preservationists, [Paul Bruhn, executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont] said. The Vermont trust took Wal-Mart officials on a tour of the state to show them what it thought were suitable, compromise locations.
That's how the Rutland site was chosen--with the governor's backing. "That's proven to be a good store for Wal-Mart," Bruhn said.
The Union and Confederate armies suffered around 29,000 casualties in the Wilderness--by coincidence, almost exactly the population of today's Orange County. If each American who died, bled, or disappeared in the Wilderness maelstrom audibly called out from the consecrated earth for remembrance, he would find an Orange resident, all his own, to hear his message
From Gordonsville and Locust Grove, from the town of Orange to Barboursville, let every county beneficiary of heroes' striving turn out to oppose this location for a shopatropolis. Let county members of the NAACP join with Sons of Confederate Veterans, small businesspersons with school teachers, yellow-dog Democrats with run-mad Republicans, natives with transplants to say, "Somewhere else." Let them leave no doubt, however their representatives vote, what an aroused Orange County thinks about this ill-conceived plan.
The Free Lance-Star is only one voice in a growing chorus asking Wal-Mart to do the right thing -- and you can make your voice heard, too. Email Wal-Mart President and CEO Michael T. Duke and ask him to use an alternate location for their proposed Supercenter that would not threaten our nation's heritage.
Sarah Heffern is the content manager for PreservationNation.org.
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