Friday, March 22, 2013

April 8th: Meeting for a Memorial for SNP Displaced People

Bill Henry

For over seventy-five years Shenandoah National Park has provided recreational opportunities for families and individuals, and many people have fond memories of times spent in the park.  However, memories are not as fond for the families who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the time the park was created.  The process used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to appropriate land and give it to the federal government was very painful for many of the mountain residents.  People were displaced from the homes where generations of their families had lived, sometimes even being removed bodily from their houses, which were then burned to prevent their return. 

Until now there has been no attempt to recognize and to honor these displaced families.  Our society creates memorials to honor sacrifices made for the benefit of our country, but no memorial exists telling of the sacrifices made by the people of the Blue Ridge.  Without their losses Shenandoah National Park would not exist for us to use and enjoy today. 

I am contacting you to invite you to a meeting that will open a discussion on the possibility of creating a memorial to recognize the people whose land was used and whose lives were disrupted to establish Shenandoah National Park.  Beyond just building a monument to the displaced families and individuals this project will offer an opportunity to educate visitors, giving them a deeper appreciation for the existence of Shenandoah National Park.  Through living history demonstrations, it will provide a place where the traditions and ways of life of the mountain people will be kept alive.  The purpose of this meeting is to determine if there is sufficient interest and support in our community to move forward with the project and begin the planning process. 

To create this memorial we will need the help of many people and a wide range of talents and expertise.  A design must be created, and a site for the memorial must be located, purchased, developed, and landscaped.  Permits and approvals must be obtained.  Historical and educational materials have to be gathered and displayed, and the living history programs will need to be organized, staffed, and promoted.  Many voices are needed to get the word out to people in each of the counties and towns that surround the park to seek their cooperation and input.  A website will have to be built and maintained, and the project needs to be promoted via the various social media as well as through traditional media outlets.  It goes without saying that fund raising will be an important and challenging part of the creation of this memorial, and legal assistance will be needed to set up an organization for receiving, controlling and dispersing the funds.  You, your family, and your friends are invited to participate in any ways you can.

Please come to this important first meeting. 

Monday, April 8th
7:00-8:30 pm

in the meeting room of the
Greene County

of the
Jefferson-Madison Regional Library

located at
222 Main Street
Stanardsville, VA  22973

Find a map to the library at:  Click on the €œ"Map It" link in the upper right hand corner.

Please pass the word about the memorial to others you think would be interested. 

I look forward to working with you on this project.