No Cellular Tower at Antietam or Why Gettysburg is not Sacred Ground
The Civil War Preservation Trust has recently released their top 10 most endangered list and it includes Antietam, in part, because of a proposed cellular phone tower that may go up just south of the battlefield. I sincerely hope that this does not happen, although I have no ill-feelings towards the company responsible for such an eye sore. After all the residents of Sharpsburg weren’t engaged in battlefield preservation following the war. I love visiting Antietam. It was where I was introduced to the Civil War in 1994 and it is one of the few battlefields where I can walk and actually contemplate the bravery of the men who fought there as well as the broader meanings of the war. This spring I will have the opportunity to bring around 15 students to the battlefield as part of a 2-day bike tour. In short, for me Antietam is the closest thing to “sacred ground.”
I have never felt the same about Gettysburg. Although I was against the push to bring a casino to Gettysburg I never viewed it as a moral question, and when the observation tower came down I never thought of it as bringing us a step closer to some notion of battlefield purity. And I am probably one of the few who would hate to see the Cyclorama Center torn down. Whenever I travel to Gettysburg (it’s not that often) I find it close to impossible to think about the battle itself apart from the distractions of the town and the ways in which the battlefield was utilized following the war. I guess too much has happened to simply see it as a battlefield where men fought and died. Yes, you can find a battle at Gettysburg and much to contemplate, but you can just as easily find overweight white male reenactors, white tourists, ghosts [I assume most of them are white.], cheap hotels, and trinkets galore. Please don’t blame me for holding such a view as Americans made the decision to commercialize and sell it long ago.
Rally on the High Ground and keep the cell phone tower away from Antietam.