Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I posted this last year on Facebook for Memorial Day. It's just as appropriate this year. They're still haggling over the fate of the Wilderness Battlefield. We're still fighting wars.


In my first book, Pat asks Miss Maggie if she's against all the development around the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia. Miss Maggie says she's against the very grass, because the grass grows over battlefields, heals them, and stops us from being able to picture what really happened there. We forget how awful war is and we do it again. I stole Miss Maggie's thoughts from Carl Sandburg in his poem "Grass":

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What is this place?
Where are we now?

Last night I heard that Walmart is building a 141,000 sq. ft. superstore right in Miss Maggie's backyard, on the Route 3 dividing line between Chancellorsville and Wilderness, right about where the rear of the union line was located. If you want to find out about this latest fiasco of greed over meaningful history and what you can do, check out At this point, it looks like Walmart's going to win.

Up on this side of the Mason-Dixon, we around Valley Forge have been fighting the building of a hotel and other development on top of the Continental Army's commissary site during the winter of 1777-78.

What is it that makes local officials want to give away the best of our historical sites--the places from which we and future generations have the most to learn--to money-grubbing giants who won't even have the grace to leave a few dollars of their profit in our own local economies? Why do we do this to our most sacred American places?

Maybe Sandburg's poem has another side -- maybe we WANT our history covered. Most of it isn't as pretty as we'd like. Especially the battlefields. Then again, if the grass didn't do its work, I'm betting that humankind would have given up war long ago.


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