Monday, August 29, 2005

45: “Professionalism?”

The No Casino Gettysburg group has a website (link on the sidebar, and below) and on the website they have a message board. Someone (anonymous) posted a message today in response to some charge made by one of the investors behind the casino. Ms. Barbara Ernico of Camp Hill has, on occasion surfaced long enough to make her plea for the casino. Unfortunately, she generally comes across full of self-righteous pomposity, a do-gooder trying to improve the lives ‘us prolies' by the use of her money. She has been mentioned before in a blog here ( #31"Someone Just Doesn't Get It!").

The anonymous poster wrote a very eloquent and articulate essay under the heading ‘Professionalism’. I have taken the liberty to reproduce it here. Indeed, I wish I had written this:

"I think that Ms. Ernico and the other investors should take a hard look at their own standards of "professionalism" before they criticize those of others. They are, after all, the ones planning to build a casino near the most sacred battlefield in America.

One could fill an entire book with editorials from newspapers across the country condemning a casino at Gettysburg, and the proposal has garnered opposition from countless organizations including The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, The Civil War Preservation Trust, The National Parks Conservation Association and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The millions of people opposing the casino are doing so because they realize that it will lead to even more sprawl and uncontrolled development on unprotected areas of the battlefield, as well as do irreparable harm to the character and atmosphere of this historic area.

The proposal is so unpopular that even at this late stage in the game, no gaming company will touch it with a ten-foot pole.

Even Governor Rendell, who has staked his career on slots, realizes that a casino in Gettysburg is "political suicide."

Evidently the only people who don't see shame in placing a casino in Gettysburg are the investors and a few of Mr. LeVan's friends. To these people, apparently nothing is sacred except the mighty dollar - not even the ground sanctified by the blood of so many heroes.

If this assumption is incorrect, and any of the investors truly do have a reverence for the place where so many fought and died, then they have yet to show it. Not one of the investors has ever taken a major role - most no role at all - in preserving the Gettysburg battlefield. Even most of Mr. LeVan's contributions have apparently been toward the "arts" in Gettysburg rather than battlefield preservation.

One is also forced to question Mr. LeVan's commitment to battlefield preservation after it was recently alleged that he has been buying up and fencing in properties along the Baltimore Pike, where the new National Park Service visitor center is being constructed. The National Park Service, The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg and The Civil War Preservation Trust have been trying for years to acquire properties there, but the prices have skyrocketed beyond reach. Their very real fear is that this area will be rapidly developed into another fast food strip like Steinwehr Avenue after the visitor center opens. Developers already have their eyes set on building there. It naturally seems suspicious, then, that Mr. LeVan has been snatching up land there with no publicly stated intent to donate it to the National Park Service.

In the end, I guess the investors simply "don't get it." They don't understand why so many people from all across the United States have such an emotional and spiritual attachment to this place; to these otherwise boring hills and fields and pieces of bronze and granite. They don't understand why grown men and women stand on Little Round Top or at The Angle with tears in their eyes for men long dead and buried. Apparently, some residents of Gettysburg "don't get it" either. They don't understand why millions come to this place and clog up their streets with traffic and reach out to touch the houses with the little plaques and buy souvenir kepis for their kids.

I guess the answer, for many of us, is because our relatives who fought and died here in July of 1863 paid a greater price for their little bit of Gettysburg real estate than any of the investors could ever offer Bob Monahan for his 42 acres. They offered up their lives as the selling price, and signed the deed in their own blood.

And it's our duty to ensure that that deed is honored forever. "


Powerful words.


"Legislation without representation is tyranny."

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Randy said...

Thank you for posting such a great letter and for your continuous vigilance regarding the preservation of these sacred fields. Both are very much appreciated.