REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND WAR OF 1812 BATTLEFIELD PROTECTION ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 22, 2008)
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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlelady from Guam. And I rise as the author of H.R. 160, the American revolution and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act, and to urge support of this legislation by my colleagues.
I would like to thank Chairman Rahall and Chairman Grijalva for their help in bringing this legislation to the floor today.
Madam Speaker, from the shot heard around the world at Lexington to the beginning of the winning, when Washington crossed the Delaware, to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, the stories of the American revolution bring to life the ideals of liberty and democracy fostered by our Nation's Founders.
History is best experienced by those who can touch it, feel it, live it, and the battlefields of the American Revolution and the War of 1812 provide a great opportunity for Americans to experience where and how the epic struggle for our Nation's independence took place.
Preserving these American historic treasures is essential in remembering the sacrifices that our forefathers made to secure our freedom and independence, and essential for educating future generations about our rich cultural history.
Unfortunately, urbanization, suburban sprawl, unplanned development are constantly encroaching on many of the significant battlefields of that period. This encroachment poses a severe and growing risk to preservation of these historically significant sites.
As Ms. Bordallo has just said, this spring the National Park Service published its report to Congress on the historic preservation of Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 sites in the United States. And this report shows that there is a great need to act and to act quickly to preserve these sites. Out of the 677 nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, 99 are already lost forever, 234 are fragmented or in poor condition, an additional 170 are in danger of being destroyed in the next decade.
H.R. 160 will authorize the use of money in the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the preservation and protection of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields and related historical sites, in addition to the Civil War sites already covered under current law. And I might add, that law has been very successful. This legislation is patterned after the Civil War battlefields legislation which has been so successful.
This bill will allow officials of the American Battlefield Protection Program to collaborate with State and local governments and nonprofit organizations to preserve and protect the most endangered historical sites, and to provide up to 50 percent of the costs of purchasing battlefield land threatened by sprawl and commercial development.
The story of the American Revolution and the War of 1812 crisscrosses 33 States, from New York to Louisiana, from Georgia to Oregon, and enacting this legislation will allow these States to better preserve their history and their role in these engagements.
I have also introduced legislation that I hope Congress will pass next year to provide additional funding for the program created in H.R. 160, the American Revolution and War of 1812 Commemorative Coin Act.
As the gentleman from Alaska alluded, my home State of New Jersey has a unique role in the American Revolution. In 2006, I am pleased to report, Congress took action to help protect the battlefields and historic sites where this conflict took place. We passed legislation that created the Crossroads of the American Revolution national heritage area, linking together 14 counties in New Jersey where more military engagements took place than in any other State. New Jersey was truly the crossroads of the American Revolution for a number of reasons, and I am pleased that we are taking steps to preserve the record of those engagements. H.R. 160 will allow many more historic battlefields to be preserved for our children's and our children's children to enjoy. We want to give Americans the opportunity to learn history. People who know history can be better citizens today and more engaged in current civic affairs.
I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.
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