Janesville66°

Preserving history is vital

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Jonathon R. Hammon
June 11, 2010

Once history is lost, there is no magic word that you can utter that will bring it back. Therefore, we should take the time and effort to save our history before it’s lost to the sands of time.


History tells us not only our past but also our future if we learn from it, which is why historic preservation is essential. However, not every historic structure or natural landscape needs to be saved and not every historic structure holds the same amount of social significance.


“It is important to recognize private/commercial interests, but adaptive reuse of buildings is the cheapest way to develop and can be economically beneficial to the community with a small amount of work from the developers,” says Allen Spears of the National Parks Conservation Association.


Nevertheless, we must protect our national parks, historic buildings, and national battlefields from commercial development. Many Civil War battlefields, where Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our nation, are in danger or have been lost because of unrestricted development. These battlefields tell part of our history and open a window to the past.


The National Park System (NPS) tells an interesting story of its own and provides us with a look into some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, yet these sites are in danger.


“Currently the NPS is drowning under a $9 billion maintenance backlog and reported a $580 million shortfall for 2009,” says Randy Biallas of NPS.


This economic challenge is largely due to unfunded mandates from Congress. If the NPS had the power to create national parks and not Congress, the system would drastically improve. If state and local preservationists promoted public awareness, many historic sites could be self-sustaining. We should not let anything infringe on the importance of preserving our history.


Jonathon R. Hammon wrote this as part of Washington Seminar at Janesville Parker High School.

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