Monument Spruce up Georgia marker in park

Published 12:05 am Sunday, July 10, 2011

For the past 49 years, the Georgia monument in the Vicksburg National Military Park has stood on the park’s south loop not far from Fort Garrott. On the 20-foot marker it reads: “We sleep here in obedience to law; When duty called, we came, When country called, we died.” The marker was placed in its current location in 1962.

Over the years, park accesses have changed. Roads have been opened and closed. One of the casualties is the Georgia monument, which, at one time, stood along the driving path. With park reconfiguration, though, the monument now stands about 100 yards off the road. The only access is a grassy path.

The park is taking public comments on Wednesday night on three proposals for the monument — leave it as is, move the monument closer to the street or create a manicured walkway to the marker.

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To leave everything as it is now will not draw more attention to the Georgia memorial. Park officials also are concerned with safety issues with a monument that’s not so easily accessible.

Moving the monument would bring it closer to traffic, but would it counter the original placement and intent? And then there is the “what-if” factor: What if the monument chips or cracks during its move?

The best option is a hybrid of the first two. Signage can be improved alerting motorists and walkers to the Georgia monument. A manicured, well-kept walkway would be inviting to guests, while keeping the integrity of the monument and its original placement.

A shrub-lined walkway to the monument will be inviting and also get people off the “beaten path” where any number of surprises might lurk. Along the 444-mile federal Natchez Trace Parkway, for example, historical markers and stop-offs are plenty. Some require a bit of walking; others, a sense of adventure. Discovering a piece of history can be rewarding and exhilarating.

The same can be said for our park. A short walk simply will open eyes to parts often overlooked.