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Wilderness battlefield defenders fight for the heritage of all Americans

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Date published: 1/7/2011

Wilderness battlefield defenders fight for the heritage of all Americans

Historians claim that the Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, and ended on May 7, 1864. They're right, with one exception.

For the people of Orange County, the Battle of the Wilderness didn't end in May 1864. While Gens. Grant and Lee--and their respective armies--moved on, the people of Orange did not. They, like Americans in battlefield communities across all parts North and South, were left to cope firsthand with the unromantic horrors of war and gruesome vestiges of a battle that modern Civil War prints, books, and films are rarely able to convey.

But cope with these things they did, and with every ounce of the honor and grace for which the Old Dominion is so widely known.

Today, Orange County finds itself under fire once again, this time by a foe familiar to rapidly developing communities throughout the country.

Yet even as commercial sprawl has started to creep its way across Virginia, many Orange County residents have stood their ground to protect the Wilderness Battlefield and other historic sites in the county.

It has not been easy. It will not be easy. But, with Walmart only a gavel's drop away from building a "supercenter" at the entrance to the county and its most-visited historic attraction, residents' efforts are more appreciated more than ever.

Thank you, defenders of the Wilderness Battlefield, for all that you have done in the defense of your heritage and ours. Know that, in speaking up for the battlefield, you are speaking not only with your own voice--but with the voices of all Americans proud to live in a nation shaped by the sacrifice of the thousands of men who fought and died on your soil to define it.

Dennis and Nancy Buttacavoli

Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.