For Immediate Release: 06/07/12
Civil War Trust Honors Virginia Officials for Exceptional Commitment to Historic Preservation
Top teacher, National Park Service official and other special guests also lauded for outstanding efforts
(Richmond, Va.) – During opening luncheon of the organization’s 2012 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va., Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer welcomed attendees and honored guests, including representatives of the Commonwealth of Virginia and numerous nonprofit partner groups. The four-day event is being held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond, featuring a variety of lectures, tours and other special programming.
During his opening remarks, Lighthizer recognized members of the Virginia General Assembly in attendance, as well as representatives of the Department of Historic Resources, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Each of these entities, he stressed, has played a role in making the Old Dominion the national leader in historic battlefield preservation.
“The vision displayed by the Commonwealth of Virginia in ensuring that these priceless hallowed grounds are set aside for the enjoyment of its citizens and visitors as a permanent and lasting legacy of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is truly remarkable,” said Lighthizer. “The widespread support for the programs and partnerships that make historic preservation of this type possible demonstrated by the McDonnell administration have created a national model for efficiency and cooperation.”
Alongside the many successful initiatives of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, the Commonwealth has made historic battlefield preservation a key element of its efforts to commemorate the War’s 150th anniversary, which will result in a permanent protection of hundreds of acres of battlefield land. Most often, the Commonwealths’ participation in battlefield preservation projects comes through one of two matching grant programs — the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation Fund, administered through the Department of Historic Resources and the only state-level endowment of its kind in the country, and the Transportation Enhancement program, awarded by the Commonwealth Transportation Board under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation.
In recognition of the precedent setting work done by each of these two programs, Lighthizer honored the men responsible for them — Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton and Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech — with the organization’s Sesquicentennial Legacy Award, highlighting their permanent and lasting impact.
Several other individuals and organizations were recognized during the luncheon for their unique and lasting contributions to historic preservation:
National Park Service Preservationist of the Year Award: Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, was honored for his exceptional commitment to finding balance between conservation goals and community needs in rapidly developing central Virginia. During his tenure, Smith has worked closely with the Trust to protect key sites on the Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg and the Wilderness battlefields.
Preservationist Teacher of the Year Award: Every year, the Trust recognizes an outstanding teacher for motivating students to become more involved in battlefield preservation. This year, the Trust recognized Mr. James Percoco of West Springfield High School, Springfield, Va., a beloved 32-year veteran educator integrating technology into his Applied History classes in innovative ways. See our interview with Jim Percoco.
Discovery Trail Site of the Year Award: Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in Petersburg, Va., was honored as the top site on the Civil War Discovery Trail, a network of more than 600 historic sites in 32 states. In addition to its outstanding interactive exhibits that bring history to life for young visitors, with particular emphasis on the experiences of common soldiers, Pamplin has recently partnered with the Trust on outstanding joint-interpretive trails.
Junior Preservation Leader: This unique recognition was presented to Andrew Druart of South Austin, Texas. Since becoming interested in Civil War history during battlefield visits with his father, Andrew has worked to find ways to help other young people become connected to the past. With his father, Tad Druart, Andrew started the website www.civilwarkids.com. He has also given presentations to numerous scout and school groups. To date, Andrew’s projects have raised more than $10,000 for battlefield preservation. See Andrew's page on our website.
Also during the luncheon, Dr. Mike Stevens, the president of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, based in Fredericksburg, presented Lighthizer with a check representing the fulfillment of the regional organization’s $1 million pledge toward the permanent preservation of the Slaughter Pen Farm at Fredericksburg. At $12 million, the protection of the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm, first announced in 2006, is the most expensive private battlefield preservation project in American history. See our interview with Mike Stevens.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s remaining Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. Since 1987, the organization has helped save more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more by visiting www.civilwar.org, the home of the Sesquicentennial.