WASHINGTON – Money is tight. Every dollar spent by government is being scrutinized right now because of the mandatory federal budget cuts known as sequestration. But efforts to preserve history may be preserved themselves.
The summer of 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, two of the pivotal battles of the Civil War, both Union victories, and it looks likely that Congress will reauthorize the $10 million a year that has been spent since 2002 to preserve such battlefields.
The bill has already passed the House and has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Jim Campi, from the Civil War Trust, says this region will be a major beneficiary.
“There are a lot of targets we’ve got in Maryland and Virginia,” he says, “particularly around big population centers like Fredericksburg and Richmond.”
The Trust estimates that there are still more than 50,000 acres of unprotected battlefield land in Virginia alone. The Trust also says Civil War sites have generated $442 million in revenue in five states and support 5,150 jobs.
“The more land you have preserved, the longer people stay in the community, and they wind up spending money on hotels, gas, food, et cetera,” Campi says.
The new bill will authorize $10 million a year from September 2013 through 2018. But this time, some of the money will also be targeted to preserve battlefields from the Revolutionary War, as well as the War of 1812, which lasted until January 1815 and which many historians say actually saved the concept of the United States.
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