Kudos to volunteers who helped VNMP

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

History, and in particular Civil War history, has always fascinated me. For as long as I can remember, all aspects of the American Civil War have captured my imagination. My Mom used to joke when I was younger that the soul of a Civil War soldier lived in me and I must have played a role during that time in a previous life.

I used to romanticize about the Civil War as a kid, but that faded into reality when I majored in history at Delta State University. The depths of the Civil War are many and complicated — a discussion for another time.

Moving to Vicksburg nearly a year ago has given me the opportunity to live in the community where the Civil War first came to life for me as a youngster.

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In the 1970s when my family and I traveled from California to visit my aunt in Vicksburg, a trip to the military park was always first on the list of things to do. I remember then as my brothers and I climbed on the cannons in front of the visitor center and charged up the hill to the Tilgham Statue (my favorite by the way), the grass always seemed to be freshly mowed.

That certainly isn’t the case any longer, which is no fault to the current caretakers of the military park.

Bill Justice and his crew are without a doubt doing the best they can with the tools at their disposal, but it isn’t enough due the lack of funding from the federal government. The park cannot be mowed as frequently due to manpower issues, causing modifications within the VNMP maintenance program. 

Focus is now concentrated on maintenance around the visitor center, the larger monuments and the markers in the national cemetery where 17,000 soldiers are laid to rest. Those areas are priorities, and rightfully so, but they cannot be completed alone.

This past weekend Justice called upon the Vicksburg community to help trim the grass in the national cemetery that had begun to take over the headstones. Dozens of volunteers showed up with their gas trimmers and went to work, but they did much more than just weed-eat the grass.

They honored the legacy and recognized the sacrifice so many soldiers paid and for that I thank each of you for spending your Saturday in the heat maintaining the hallowed ground.

Perhaps I can join you on the next volunteer work day.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at Rob.Sigler@VicksburgPost.com.