Spotsylvania County’s Sesquicentennial
While the state of Georgia seems to be going for the entertainment jugular, in preparation for the Civil War Sesquicentennial, Spotsylvania County is being steered down a more sophisticated direction by the NPS:
"It’s not too early at all to start getting things ready," said Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He noted that this year’s 400th anniversary of Jamestown took a decade to plan. Smith is heading up the National Park Service’s efforts. He met last week with counterparts from four other park service regions with Civil War sites. He’s using a plan written several years ago by John Hennessy, the local military parks’ chief historian, "to lay out a framework for the anniversary," Smith said. "This is important to Virginia because there are 12 national parks with Civil War themes."
Here, the Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Courthouse battlefields spread over 8,000 acres and are visited by more than 200,000 people every year. Smith said there’s much to be done to put the anniversary in perspective. "What we’re trying to do, first of all, is redefine what a Civil War site is. It’s not just strategy and tactics," he said. We’re using the motto: ‘The Civil War is not just battles anymore.’"
This is a good sign, but we will certainly have to wait for crunch time when the goals of education and the importance of the all-mighty tourist dollar compete more openly for our souls.