Preserving the parks, battlefields, cemeteries, shrines and buildings related to the Civil War is demanding work, but it is a worthy endeavor. That is especially so here, where one is never far from reminders of what took place in the past. Tennessee and Georgia residents can help preserve several Civil War sites in the area during Park Day on Saturday. The opportunity to provide a worthwhile public service while helping to preserve history should not be overlooked.
Sponsored nationally by the Civil War Preservation Trust, the day is observed at more than 100 sites in more than 25 states and the District of Columbia. The nationwide effort, underwritten by a grant from History, formerly the History Channel, allows volunteers to help participating sites meet pressing maintenance needs. The work this Saturday includes large and small projects -- raking leaves, clearing debris, building or expanding trails and walkways, etc. Each task contributes directly to the site upkeep and preservation.
If past events are a reliable indicator, the largest Park Day event in the region likely will be at the Chickamauga National Military Park. It has been so in the past. This year, volunteers there will assemble at 8:30 a.m. at the park's Visitors Center. Their tasks will include landscape restoration on the battlefield, monument and tablet cleaning, and exotic plant removal. The work session will conclude about noon.
Other Park Day events are scheduled at the Confederate cemeteries in Resaca and Dalton, Ga., at Prater's Mill near Varnell, Ga., and at Anderson Cemetery in Ringgold, Ga. Information about each is available by phone or on the Web sites of each site.
Almost all Park Day host sites for Saturday's family-friendly event face financial and manpower difficulties. Tight budgets combined with increasing numbers of visitors make it difficult for them to provide short-term maintenance or to meet long-term infrastructure needs. Park Day won't solve those problems, but it will provide a bit of relief for those dedicated to preserving the sites. It also allows those with an interest in the nation's history -- particularly the Civil war -- to express their interest through meaningful work. That, surely, is an appropriate way for the current generation to help preserve the past for the benefit of future generations.
Park Day is an opportunity, too, to honor those in blue and gray who served faithfully and honorably in the nation's most divisive war. Working with those of like mind to participate directly in the preservation of history by sustaining the sites where they fought and often died is a commendable way to commemorate their sacrifice.