Even George Will Gets It

Today the Washington Post ran a column by George Will published ten years ago about the state of the Gettysburg battlefield and plans to build a new visitor center.

From the 1998 editorial:

With his gray-flecked sandy beard, Gettysburg Park Superintendent John Latschar, 51, could have stepped from a Mathew Brady photograph. He has a Rutgers’ doctorate in American history, and he regrets that the current visitors’ center is “a curator’s museum,” holding artifacts in place — rifles and other stuff behind glass. He aspires to build an “interpretive museum” that, using interactive media and other teaching devices, will explain why the war came and why men walked through fields of fire.

Given that the vast majority of Americans have never heard a shot fired in anger, the imaginative presentation of military history in a new facility here is vital, lest rising generations have no sense of the sacrifices of which they are beneficiaries.

And what does George Will have to say today?

Ten years ago, this column asserted that disrespect for the national patrimony of Civil War battlefields should be a hanging offense, and said: “Given that the vast majority of Americans have never heard a shot fired in anger, the imaginative presentation of military history in a new facility here is vital, lest rising generations have no sense of the sacrifices of which they are beneficiaries.” Today, at an embarrassing moment of multiplying public futilities, private efforts, in collaboration with the National Park Service, have done something resoundingly right that will help a normally amnesiac nation to long remember.

Thanks to the hard work of John Latschar and others we have a visitor center that will help future generations “to long remember.”

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