Saturday, May 16, 2009

Help Fight the Wilderness Walmart

We have just passed the 145 anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6, 1864). The woods and fields of the Wilderness are once again a battleground, only this time it's without guns, horses, and Union and Confederate soldiers. Walmart Corporation has plans to build a superstore on part of what was once this fiercely contested ground just west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) and other preservation groups are doing their best to prevent this travesty, but Walmart and their executives appear determined to put up a fight for this land even though they have two other stores very near the area.

I would be ashamed of myself if I did not use every forum available to help the CWPT and their allies in opposing this encroachment by Walmart. The following is an appeal that I recently received from the CWPT. Please read it and see if there isn't something you too can do to help.

Dear Friend,
After nearly a year of heated debate, the controversy over building a Walmart superstore on the Wilderness Battlefield is coming to a conclusion. Public hearings are set to begin next week, and it is crucial that friends of the battlefield again weigh in about this threat. We firmly believe that the best solution for everyone is to move Walmart to a less historically sensitive location away from the National Park.
We are not alone in this view. In addition to our partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, the call for Walmart to find another site has been echoed by hundreds of historians, Academy Award-winning actors Robert Duvall and Richard Dreyfuss and two members of Congress. But to win this battle to save the Wilderness, we also need the help of concerned citizens like you.
The best solution to this dilemma was proposed by the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition months ago — a planning process to explore alternatives to development adjacent to the battlefield that would both protect the National Park and help local officials achieve their economic growth goals. Unfortunately, Orange County rejected this reasonable approach, with several local officials expressing contempt for the preservation community.

Attend public hearings: If you live in or near Orange County, please consider attending the public hearings. The first public hearing is before the Planning Commission on Thursday, May 21, at 7:00 at Prospect Heights Middle School, 202 Dailey Drive, Orange, VA 22960.
Click here for a map of the public hearing location.
Write to the Board of Supervisors: If you can’t make the hearing, please consider writing a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors even if you have written them before, please take a minute to do so again. Orange County’s elected officials need to know where people stand on this issue. Let them hear your personal frustration that they rejected a planning process that would have benefited all parties.
Click here to send a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Write to your local newspaper: The construction of a Walmart on the doorstep of a National Park is an issue of national importance, so even if you live in another state, please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your opposition to the proposed Walmart. Add your voice to others who have expressed concern about a big box superstore across the road from a National Park Click here to find a list of newspapers in your area.Please be sure to check your local paper for policies regarding Letters to the Editor.

Throughout this struggle, the preservation community has consistently sought a reasonable compromise. Now, more than ever, you must let Walmart and Orange County know that the Wilderness Battlefield is a national treasure and should be protected from development.
Please let us know if you have any questions (202-367-1861 ext. 220). The dramatic impact of decisions reached regarding Walmart will be felt for years to come. I hope we can count on your continued support to ensure the best possible future for the Wilderness Battlefield!
Thank you.
Brent Laurenz
P.S. To follow this issue, please visit
P.P.S. For photos and video of the news conference on the Wilderness Battlefield featuring Robert Duvall and Congressmen Poe and Welch, please visit

Thanks in advance for your efforts to keep the memory and honor of those brave soldiers who fought at the Wilderness alive for future generations.

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