NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 8, 2013

Gettysburg in lockdown

So here we are in a government shutdown. This isn’t the first time, but it may be the first time with little prospect of compromise. The White House definitely doesn’t want to compromise and the more they stand firm, the more the other side does.

A regrettable byproduct of this has become the situation with our national parks. When they were established, they were meant to be open for all the people to enjoy. Whether it’s the beauty of Yellowstone, the preserved Everglades, the vast Grand Canyon or the humility of the World War II Memorial, the idea was for Americans to have them to visit, behold and enjoy.

With the exception of manpower to run certain parts, perhaps a visitors’ center or museum or some security, most of these parks are not tended by mankind one iota, but allowed to be as they are.

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., is open 24/7 and at normal times, has various entry points and never even has a turnstile entrance. Still, when this began, a fence or barrier had to be created to block it. Fortunately, greater minds prevailed for those WWII vets from Mississippi who wanted to see it, and they were allowed access.

Large national parks are locked down now too. But, another possible consequence is an upcoming date that will only pass us once in our lifetime and could easily get tossed aside and become a casualty itself.

On Nov. 19, 1863, President Lincoln read a 2 1/2-minute speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The devastating battle that took place in July of that year left many in the country wondering why the war was still going on and what was the final meaning of it all. Over 50,000 men were killed, wounded or missing in that battle alone in just three days. This would be the country’s first national cemetery and Lincoln, in a most poetic manner, gave the country some meaning for it all. And it was done without a teleprompter!

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