From the opinion page of the Sunday Washington Post, April 26, 2020:
The Save Fort Monroe Network
Share information about a national treasure's future.
Advocating a substantial, unified national monument (national park) to transform the limited, split one at Fort Monroe, Virginia—POINT COMFORT—site of what Civil War historian Edward Ayers called “the greatest moment in American history.” Anyone can join. No cost, meetings or requirements.
THE 2020 SITUATION FOLLOWING POINT COMFORT'S YEAR, 2019Fourteen years into the struggle forAmerica’s premier site for memory ofDespite former Gov. McAuliffe’s promise in 2014, the national monument/park remains unconscionably split so development can spill across the red-bordered area shown just below:
(You can easily extract and circulate a copy of this illustration.)What's that red area in the illustration? Because slavery both began and began to end at Fort Monroe, this year's Point Comfort 1619-2019 commemoration calls attention to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot's longstanding warning: Without adding that “roughly 100 acres” to UNIFY the split national monument—not just politicians' tiny, token, tardily proposed 40-acre coastal sliver—Fort Monroe will be “squandered.”
“Squandered”? A Washington Post opinion piece summarizes. An op-ed in Virginia's Black community's century-old New Journal and Guide urges readers to stir national media attention to Fort Monroe's “peril of being squandered.”
Support for unification of the limited, split national monument:
- Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach mayors
- National treasure? Fort Monroe has been credibly ranked alongside Monticello, Mount Vernon, Plymouth Rock, Gettysburg, the Grand Canyon, and the Statue of Liberty. The University of Richmond's Edward L. Ayers invoked the Liberty Bell when placing the 1861 “greatest moment in American history” there. That moment, says Henry Louis Gates Jr., was when three enterprising black heroes—Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend—forced “the beginning of the end of slavery” by escaping enslavement and seeking freedom. In the New York Times, Adam Goodheart told the story under the headline “How Slavery Really Ended in America.” A substantial Freedom's Fortress National Park at Fort Monroe could become a national emancipation memorial and a World Heritage site.
Three-minute video tour (produced by Norfolk's PBS station, WHRO)
“Elevate Virgnia's Historic Triangle” (Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed)
Flooding? Wetlands Watch formally criticized the plan to overdevelop low-lying, ocean-facing Fort Monroe, and on its blog even called the plan “stupid.” The Union of Concerned Scientists warns that flooding threatens—and that long before condos were even contemplated, Hurricane Isabel brought Fort Monroe a tenth of a billion dollars in damage.
SO WHY ALL THE CONCERN?
Virginia's official vision (proclaimed on a 2018 web page that never mentions the national monument):"To redevelop this historic property into a vibrant, mixed-use community."
Would anyone build condos on Monticello’s hillsides? Please no, and not in the wrong places at Fort Monroe either. The pretext, the excuse, for the impending squandering is public financial necessity—which amounts to a claim that America is too fourth-rate to cherish its most important sites. Virginia's handling of Fort Monroe requires national accountability.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
AFTER 14 YEARS, FORT MONROE IS ANCIENT NEWS IN VIRGINIA. DEVELOPMENT-FOCUSED POLITICIANS HAVE OUTWAITED FORT MONROE'S TRUEST FRIENDS. MOREOVER, THE NEWPORT NEWS DAILY PRESS HAS FALSELY PORTRAYED ALL OF FORT MONROE, RATHER THAN JUST TWO PARTS OF IT, AS FEDERALLY STEWARDED. IF YOU WANT TO SAVE FORT MONROE, FIND WAYS TO DRAW NATIONAL MEDIA ATTENTION. Virginia's handling of Fort Monroe requires national accountability.
The Save Fort Monroe Network involves nearly a thousand Fort Monroe stakeholders on an email list that has grown steadily since 2005, when the Army's 2011 departure from Fort Monroe was announced. If you want Fort Monroe saved from overdevelopment, you're with us. Comments welcomed. It's a network.
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Special adviser: Sheri Bailey of the Save Fort Momroe Network and JuneteenthVA.org
Spokesman: Steven T. Corneliussen, SaveFortMonroe[[[at]]]gmail.com
Webmaster: David Gurganus
Page revised: 26 April, 2020
TIDEWATER'S MAJOR MAYORS CALL
FOR UNIFYING THE LIMITED, SPLIT
(Click on the letter to see a full-size version.)