Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy

I received a couple of notices from the Civil War Trust regarding an initiative, which will be formally announced later this month, called “Campaign 150.”  The press release from CWT reads:

On Thursday, June 30, the eve of the anniversary of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, officials from the Civil War Trust will gather in Gettysburg to announce the start of an ambitious national fundraising initiative that, if successful, will permanently protect an unprecedented amount of hallowed ground during the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration.

Called “Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy,” the initiative will seek to permanently preserve 20,000 acres of battlefield land before the conclusion of the Civil War’s 150th  anniversary commemoration.  Doing so will allow the Trust to eclipse the 50,000-acre mark for total battlefield land set aside for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

Joining Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer at the news conference will be two tireless advocates for battlefield preservation:  country music superstar Trace Adkins and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson.

The announcement of the national fundraising campaign will be made at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30 in Schmuker Grove on the grounds of the historic Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  The seminary is an important landmark on the first day’s battlefield.

I cannot think of a better way to mark the 150th than such a bold and ambitious effort.  Just a few months into the sequicentennial, preservationists have several “wins” to count – Wilderness Wal-Mart, Gettysburg Casino (although there may be another last word on that), Gettysburg Country Club acquisition, and additional acres preserved in the Georgia battlefields of Resaca and Dallas.  The later pushed the total acres preserved thus far by Civil War Trust to 30,000.

Never resting, Civil War Trust has open efforts to acquire and preserve land at the Wilderness, Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Franklin, Second Manassas, Bentonville, along with more acreage at Gettysburg.  Some of these efforts are nearing the desired goals.

Linking the preservation theme in with the sesquicentennial, CWT’s web site now includes a section specifically for the 150th anniversary and events.  They’ve also published The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List, by Gary Adleman – sort of a “bucket list” of things to see, do, and experience.

CWT has also teamed up with History (Channel) and the National Parks Foundation in a program called Give150, which reaches out a broader audience than the typical campaign drives.  I do hope to see a caveman commercial come from this teaming!

Now I’m all for seminars, reenactments, living-histories, and such.  But fifty years from now, what will those mean? The ideas we present today, be they text or speech, have a shelf life to some degree.  Sure the words “last” but does the idea remain fresh, and at the fore?  How much of the centennial commemorations still echo around today?  How much of it has been revisited, reviewed, revised, and perhaps even repackaged?

On the other hand, I would think it a fitting legacy if fifty years from now the “bicentennial-ists” are able to hold their observances on ground we preserved between 2011 and 2015.