Robert Duvall who endeared himself to civil war fans in general and Southerners in particular with his portrayal of General Robert E. Lee in the movie, “Gods and Generals,” came out today to express his concern over the proposed superstore Wal-Mart near Orange, Virginia, and the Battle of the Wilderness battlefield.
Now Duvall is a marvelous actor and has become a Virginian, living nearby in a beautiful old home, and showing up at local restaurants enough that heads barely turn when he appears.
It was anticipated that he would lend his considerable support (and that marvelous voice) to the ongoing conflict, which pits the battlefield where the disastrous battle began on this date in 1864. A representative from Texas added his words, but someone brought up the fact that the immediate area is already dotted with strip malls and the like.
One small fact remains uncontroverted. The land on which the Arkansas giant wishes to build its store has been zoned commercial for many years. While there will be a proffer of segregating off 17 acres of land as well as a the perennial buffer zone, it remains commercial land. If someone wanted to do something WITH the battlefield, why not before this? Why not a group or consortium come together of all of these preservationist minded folks and save the area? Turn it into a real battlefield park, interpretivve signage, trails to be walked, a history to be learned, and a battlefield preserved.
But it seems to take someone wanting to build something to get people’s preservation dander up. And that’s a shame.