Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gambling at Gettysburg

If you are an American, shouldn't this make you physically ill?

Gettysburg was the site of one of the largest battles fought on American soil, but today it is playing host to a different type of fight: Whether slot machines should come to town. A proposal that would bring gambling a little more than a mile away from the Pennsylvania battlefield propelled it to the top of a preservation group’s list of the 10 most endangered Civil War battlefields released Tuesday.

Proposed development was one threat cited by the Civil War Preservation Trust in the naming of the 10 sites located in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington, D.C.

“Hallowed ground, where more than 600,000 Americans gave their lives, is being paved over in favor of shopping malls, housing tracts and even gambling casinos,” the trust’s president, James Lighthizer, said Tuesday during a news conference. (MSNBC)
I could blog about this more, but my mother taught me not to blog when I'm angry... or something like that.

SOMETIME LATER: Okay, I'm feeling more in control now. On to the blog....

I have been to the Gettysburg battlefield twice, once as a child and once as an adult (albeit a college-age one). I have been to several other battle sites and places of historical importance, but I didn't necessarily feel an emotional response while visiting them. While I can not say that what I felt at Gettysburg was a "spiritual" feeling, I can say that it was a feeling of being somewhere of vast importance. As I surveyed the landscape and looked at the monuments, I knew that I was at a place of historical significance. I experienced not just the knowledge that what happened there was important, but I also experienced an emotional response of awe and humility.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Gettysburg is somehow a spiritual place because tens of thousands perished there. I'm only saying that the battlefield has an energetic feel to it. (Although there is certainly a spooky kind of feel to Devil's Den - if you've been there, you know what I mean)

Carnivals have their place, but I believe that there are places in this world that do not deserve to have a carnival atmosphere. To have a casino connected with Gettysburg is to cheapen what occurred there and to belittle the lives of the men who fought there. Lincoln would be ashamed.

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