|View single post by aphill|
|Posted: Fri Jun 9th, 2006 09:53 pm||
Lee's forgotten general
|I am puzzled as to why a 5K foot race at Sharpsburg is offensive. There is plenty of precedent for such events.
The National Park Service allows the Chattanooga Track Club to host an annual 15K in the spring on the roads of the Chickamauga Battlefield. In the fall, they host a marathon that utilizes the battlefield roads. By the way, this isn't a new event; the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon started in 1976 and I think it has been run every year since.
The YWCA in Gettysburg has an annual "Spirit of Gettysburg" 5K race every 4th of July weekend. It attracts over 1,000 runners and it utilizes battlefield roads, too. For 27 years, Vicksburg has hosted a 10K race called "The Run Through History." It runs through the park as well. These are just the ones I know off the top of my head.
Outside the Civil War, Valley Forge now hosts a 5-mile "Revolutionary Run." I think there are also foot races held at Princeton and at Yorktown, too.
So what's the big deal about holding a foot race at Sharpsburg?
Foot races are a very low impact activity. Obviously they do no harm to the battlefield or else the NPS would not allow them to continue. There also must not be much of a public outcry to stop such events -- again, the NPS keeps granting the permits and allowing the events to take place. Furthermore, even if the charity involved is not directly benefiting the battlefield, the cost for permits to hold the race on the public roads there does. I would also venture a wager that at least some of the folks running in these races are Civil War buffs who are well aware of what happened on these fields. Some may be even doing the race to honor an ancestor who fell there.
Moreover, runners and cyclists already utilize the public roads that pass through various battlefields every day anyway. Like it or not, the roads through these battlefields are publically owned and are already being used for recreational purposes on an every day basis by people who may or may not appreciate what happened there. And, I do think this is a good thing. The more folks who appreciate battlefields -- even if its just for their scenic and asethetic "green space" value -- the more allies we have in the fight for preservation. We need all the help we can get. And if allowing an occasional race or other low impact, non-historical activity illustrates to more people why battlefields are important and earns us more potential allies in the fight for preservation, I say that is a good thing.
Battlefields mean many things to different people. For some, its a place to study tactics. For others, it may be a place to quietly reflect. Still others may see it as a place for relaxation and recreation. And others still who might have no interest at all in history might go there to study the birds or the plants that exist there. All of these people can coexist peacefully and enjoy different aspects of a battlefield.