It’s a big week for Vicksburg National Military Park

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not that any week is insignificant for the Vicksburg National Military Park, this week is especially significant. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and country musician Trace Adkins are all scheduled to visit Thursday when managers of the historic battlefield accept a $142,000 grant for restoration and replacement of markers lost to scrap metal drives of World War II.

The grant is a gift, but it was earned. A nonprofit group, The Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Vicksburg Campaign, raised the required $71,000 local money match in less than 10 months.

Of that total, $35,000 came in one generous check and $11,000 came from the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. The rest came in smaller amounts from people who believe preservation of the park, created in 1899 to preserve Civil War siege lines, is a sacred trust.

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As it happens, aims of the National Park Centennial Initiative, a 10-year program designed to reinvigorate America’s national parks with support from public and private partners, coincide with what has been taking place here. What’s happened with the Friends in Vicksburg will be seen as exemplary for other assets of the National Park Service.

Interest in the Civil War has at times increased and at times ebbed in the 109 years since the park here was created by Congress. Yet in good times and bad, the park’s stewards have done their best. Now, with private support, they may do more.

The park here continues to grow and evolve, in terms of new discoveries and research, monuments and property, including Pemberton Headquarters downtown. The high-profile visitors will no doubt be impressed by the beauty of the park as well as the work being done. Citizens of Vicksburg and from across America are being good stewards of the park. By doing so, they assure our history can be seen and understood by generations to come.