Help Save 112 Acres at Gettysburg
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
One hundred Fifty years ago this year, the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever fought on American soil, became enshrined as part of our nation’s history.
Today, to start the New Year, the Civil War Trust can turn every $1.00 you donate into $4.19 so you can help save a crucial part of Gettysburg’s hallowed ground!
Dear Trusted Friend,
Do you remember your first trip to Gettysburg?
Do you remember how you felt when you first looked out over those beautiful, rolling acres of hallowed ground?
I do . . . like it was yesterday.
It was 1983; wow . . . thirty years ago. I was the County Executive for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and a buddy of mine suggested that I read a novel called The Killer Angels on my upcoming family trip to the beach.
I told him that I don’t read novels; I read history. He insisted that I’d like this one, so I gave it a try. As they say, the rest is history.
Like many people, I read that book and it changed my life, because then, I simply had to go to Gettysburg and see the places I had just read about.
I cannot begin to describe to you the profound effect that hallowed ground had on me that day. I began studying the Civil War intensely (250+ books and innumerable battlefield visits, and still counting), and this passion led to my current position, where I am so fortunate to begin my 14th year as president and CEO of the Trust. With any luck, this is the last job I will ever have.
So you see, my friend, Gettysburg truly changed my life, just as it changed the lives of every veteran who fought there 150 years ago, and the millions of people who have gone there since.
Maybe it has changed your life, too. Maybe for you, Gettysburg is THE most hallowed ground in the world, either because you’ve stood there and felt similar waves of emotion, or that you’ve read some of the hundreds of books about the battle, marveling at the courage and honor and valor of those who fought there.
Either way, I hope you will agree with my assessment that if any battlefield land anywhere is worth preserving, Gettysburg has to be at the top of the list.
That’s why I ask you to please help me start 2013 off with a boom by taking advantage of a $4.19-to-$1 match to save 112 acres of key battlefield land at Gettysburg.
As you can see our battle map, we are targeting three tracts, which I would describe to you as “the forgotten flanks” of the Union and Confederate armies at Gettysburg.
These tracts – the first 3-acre parcel is near Spangler’s Spring, the second 36-acre tract is near the two Round Tops, and the third 73-acre expanse across the battlefield is adjacent to South Cavalry Field (as well as the Eisenhower National Historic Site) – have all been defined by officials at the Gettysburg National Military Park as high-priority sites that need to be protected.
View of the three tracts, from left to right: 3-acre parcel is near Spangler’s Spring; 36-acre tract is near the two Round Tops; 73-acre expanse adjacent to South Cavalry Field
In each case, you and I will be proactively preserving this land, declaring it off limits for inappropriate residential and commercial development that is clawing its way ever closer to the battlefield.
And especially in the case of the 73-acre area, we need to save this land now, while we can, because I would fully expect it to become a prime target should misguided casino developers decide to make a third attempt to build a gambling parlor at Gettysburg! (You’ll recall we’ve beaten them back twice before.)
The total cost of these 112 acres is $1,048,000 – but . . . through a combination of land acquisition funds from the Park ($100,000), a generous bequest from a New York Photographer and Trust member, Robert J. Glass (another $100,000), an anticipated anonymous conservation buyer ($333,000), and a generous donation from a former member of our Board of Trustees, Frank Bracken, and his wife Judy ($265,000) . . .
. . . we have $798,000 (fully 76%) of the total amount committed, leaving us $250,000 to go.
That’s a lot of money, especially when you consider that the Trust has drawn down its reserves dramatically in past few months, spending literally millions of dollars saving crucial acres at places like Shiloh and Franklin in Tennessee, Gaines’ Mill and Appomattox in Virginia, and Perryville, Kentucky.
But when the opportunity arose to save 112 acres of unprotected “forgotten flank” land at Gettysburg, land that is crucial to completing the preservation of hallowed places like Spangler’s Spring, the Round Tops and South Cavalry Field, of course we “pitched into the battle” to save it.
My staff has gotten the properties under contract . . . the Board of Trustees has given their approval to proceed . . . I have gotten as much matching money lined up as I can find . . .
. . . now I need your help – your generosity – to get this land saved forever.
Before you make your decision on whether or not to get involved in this historic project during this 150th anniversary year, I ask you to please look at the other document I’ve prepared for you today.
It is a copy of our latest press release, highlighting our accomplishments over the course of the past twelve months.
If it sounds like I’m bragging a little bit, my friend, I hope you will forgive me. But by any objective measure – thanks to you, and despite all the odds – 2012 was a remarkable year!
Together, you and I were able to save a record 3,735 acres of hallowed ground in 2012!
Spread out over 39 separate transactions at 26 battlefields in eight states (and aren’t you glad I didn’t send you a letter for every one of those efforts!), I am confident that 2012 will long be remembered as one of the greatest years in the history of the modern battlefield preservation movement.
Plus, we received a coveted accreditation from the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, while maintaining our top rating from other watchdog services like Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits.org, and many others.
These are tremendous accomplishments, to be sure. But . . . they don’t happen without you.
Without you and your generosity, no hallowed ground is saved for future generations, no accolades are earned, no progress is made to protect our nation’s precious heritage. You are the key to our every victory.
We all get caught up in the day-to-day activities that fill our hours. But when you and I have the chance to save 112 crucial acres at America’s best-known Civil War battlefield, I believe we need to make time and take advantage of it.
Why is it so important to press forward relentlessly in this great task of saving hallowed ground, to not rest on our laurels?
To answer that question, let me tell you what a developer recently said about development heading toward open land near the Richmond, Virginia battlefields: “It’s no longer a question of whether it’s going to go in that direction, it’s a question of when.”
Those who would thoughtlessly and recklessly destroy our battlefields and our history are not taking any time off; that’s why you and I cannot slacken in our efforts, either.
I know I hit you and your fellow Trust members pretty hard for donations last year, to help secure all of the matching money we had on the table (and we successfully multiplied all gifts for land by an average of $4-to-$1), and I know the economy is still hurting many folks.
But every time I turn the calendar to a new year, I can’t help but remember that we are still racing the clock to save hallowed ground.
How many more “Januarys” do you and I have left before most of America’s crucial hallowed ground is gone? Three years? Five? Ten? Certainly not much more than that, and in many places, we certainly have much less time than that.
So please, if you possibly can, will you help me raise the last needed $250,000 so that I can add that to the $798,000 in already-received gifts and expected commitments, and save this crucial 112 acres at Gettysburg?
As soon as we raise our $250,000, we can close on this $1,048,000 worth of property – that’s a $4.19-to-$1 multiplier of your donation dollar, and a great way to start 2013!
I want you to be a part of this historic effort, with a gift of any amount. You are the reason why the Trust has been able to save over 35,700 acres, my friend; I appreciate everything you have done for our nation’s battlefields.
Please join me in taking advantage of this terrific $4.19-to-$1 match, and help save a critical 112 acres of the most important Civil War ground at any battlefield anywhere.
Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.
Awaiting your reply,
P.S. Can you please help me with one more thing? Over the years, I’ve found that we get some of our best new members from the referrals of existing members. Would you please help spread the word about our important mission – and how we do what we say we are going to do with your money – by e-mailing this link www.civilwar.org/2012yearinreviewto your friends who might be interested? When they click on this, they will go to our website and directly to a copy of the 2012 press release that I’ve sent to you today. An endorsement from you along the lines of, “Hey, you should check out this group, I’m a member and they do good work” will go a long way to boosting our membership rolls, I am certain. Thank you.
Don’t forget that there is a wealth of information on our website about this important Gettysburg effort. Just go to www.civilwar.org/gettysburg13, for more photos, maps, history articles and many more resources. You can also make your gift securely on-line – putting your generosity to work at nearly the speed of light! And if I haven’t said it enough: Thank you!