U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is urging Congressional committee leaders to advance legislation protecting the legacy of Civil War historic sites, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the war.
In a letter to the committee leaders, Senator Casey and other members of Congress with legislation related to the Civil War wrote, "This significant anniversary in American history is the proper time to remember and learn from the bravery and sacrifices of previous generations. In addition to protecting hallowed ground and valuable recreational and natural lands, these bills will strengthen iconic national parks which are already economic generators for their local communities."
Senator Casey's bill would incorporate two historically significant properties into the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park. The two properties include the Lincoln Train Station, located in downtown Gettysburg, and 45 acres of land at the southern end of Gettysburg battlefield.
The Lincoln Train Station, located in downtown Gettysburg, was built in 1858 and is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The station served as a hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and was the departure point for thousands of soldiers who were wounded or killed in battle. The Lincoln Train Station is perhaps most historically significant as the site at which President Abraham Lincoln arrived on November 18, 1863 - one day before he delivered the Gettysburg Address.
Full text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairmen Bingaman and Hastings, and Ranking Members Murkowski and Markey:
As members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, we recognize the importance of preserving our historic legacy and protecting historic sites including those associated with the Civil War. Over 600,000 Americans lost their lives in the conflict. During this, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we have advocated to honor these men and women by protecting the hallowed ground on which they fought and sacrificed as a source of remembrance. To do this, we respectfully request you act on pieces of legislation to help preserve some of our most sacred battlefield sites, and help facilitate final passage of this legislation as Americans commemorate some of the most trying years in our nation's past.
During the 112th Congress we, the undersigned Senators and Representatives, have introduced legislation that would protect lands crucial to the interpretation of some of the Civil War's most important battles. H.R. 1335 and S. 1897 would allow for the inclusion of critical battlefield land and the downtown train station, which served as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and where President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver the Gettysburg Address, to Gettysburg National Military Park. H.R. 2083 and S. 265 would help complete the story of the Siege and Defense of Vicksburg by including battlefields at Port Gibson, Champion Hill and Raymond to the Vicksburg National Military Park. Finally, H.R. 1296 and S. 713 would include battle sites crucial to the interpretation of the Siege and Defense of Petersburg -- the last great battle of the War -- into the Petersburg National Battlefield.
This significant anniversary in American history is the proper time to remember and learn from the bravery and sacrifices of previous generations. In addition to protecting hallowed ground and valuable recreational and natural lands, these bills will strengthen iconic national parks which are already economic generators for their local communities. The passage of these bills will leave a legacy that will last another 150 years, allowing our children and grandchildren to learn about those who helped shaped who we are today.
We respectfully request that you schedule needed Committee consideration of these bills, where appropriate, and assist us in passing these pieces of legislation into law in the remaining months of this Congress.
Senator Bob Casey
Senator Jim Webb
Senator Mark Warner
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator Roger Wicker
Representative Todd Platts
Representative Bennie Thompson