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It takes money to protect, preserve our history

Those of us who live in Vicksburg and Warren County, take our history seriously.

Our history not only provides a sense of pride and self. It is a huge part of our community’s economic health and stability.

Thousands of visitors come to Vicksburg each year specifically because of the historical events that happened here, and the historic locales that are so well preserved and interpreted.

The Vicksburg National Military Park is a prime example of how history can be preserved and presented.

The stories that are told, the monuments that can be viewed, the U.S.S. Cairo that can be experienced and the cemetery that can be honored all go together to make the park not just a destination, but rather an experience.

This week, we learned how important our history can be to our community, and how perilous sometimes preserving it can be.

Tuesday, dignitaries from the federal government and below all joined together in Edwards to announce the expansion of the Vicksburg National Military Park to now include the Champion Hill Battleground. The 800-acre expansion is the single largest in the park’s history.

Those who support and advocate for the park, the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, have kicked off a $3 million fundraising campaign that will go to support the expanded areas, to ensure that the iconic events that took place during the Civil War are preserved, presented and interpreted in a way fitting of being associated with the Vicksburg National Military Park.

On emotional flip side, the Warren County Board of Supervisors is now facing a costly problem of preserving history. Tuesday evening, a part of the wall surrounding the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Vicksburg collapsed. The fascia of part of the west-facing wall fell onto the sidewalk and a portion of Monroe Street.

Earlier this year, supervisors funded a survey and study that outlined the structural issues that had been caused by years of water seeping into and over the more than 100-year-old wall. The plan, which was approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, also laid out details on how repairs could have been handled.

Now, the timeline for those repairs has been moved up. Unfortunately, monies available to fund the repairs have yet to be found.

Our history is again crucial to our economy and our image. For good or bad, it is our history and in regards to the historic buildings and locations, our responsibility.

We are sure monies will be found to restore the wall around the Old Courthouse Museum and we are sure the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign will reach their $3 million goal.

We are sure of this not just because these groups and government agencies have a track record of preserving and protecting our history, but they do not have a choice. Our history means too much to us to simply let it slip away.