Sunday, July 17, 2011

Regarding Fort Monroe

When it comes to Fort Monroe, I really don't know where I can begin.  The post has been a part of my life for most of my life, whether I was a youngster roaming around Armistead Hall, as my gran cleaned the guest rooms, or as a teenager getting my first "bloody" (by accident) at the Officer's Club during a Sunday brunch, or visiting the Casemate Museum as a Hampton City schools student, or walking along the top of the moat (where the pet cemetary is located, as well as incredible views), or going to the prom at the rooftop ballroom of The Chamberlin (now a Seniors' community), or attending various Easter Sunrise services (including the last one this year) and Hampton Cup Regattas.  I don't know how many tennis balls I lobbed into Mill Creek over the years.  And there are many other stories I could tell, like many people who have grown up and around this incredible National Historic Landmark.

When I first became involved with the historic preservation movement, I decided that if Fort Monroe ever made the BRAC (Base Re-alignment and Closure) list, then I would do everything in my power to make sure that the National Trust for Historic Preservation would be aware of the post, its history, and its importance to me and the folks in the region.  I kept that promise.  And I have been particularly happy with the effort to bring a National Park Service unit to Fort Monroe.  I will admit that I didn't think that it was possible, considering the incredible back log on the maintenance of the exisiting National Parks (sounds like jobs to me).  However, I have to applaud the efforts of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park (CFMNP); that organization (along with the Contraband Historical Society) truly helped to push hard for a National Park Service presence on the post.  I've also been following the progress of the Fort Monroe Authority, which is the organization managing the post's transition from an active to inactive post.

I was also quite happy to see my former colleagues at the National Trust (particularly Rob Nieweg) really take on the Fort Monroe cause.  The organization has a "take action" effort to encourage the Obama administration to designate Fort Monroe a National Monument (please follow this link to learn more).  Legislation also has been introduced by Rep. Scott Rigell in the U.S. House to establish a National Park Service unit at Fort Monroe; Senators Webb and Warner have also introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Fort Monroe is an incredible historic site, with a history spanning the 17th (at Old Point Comfort) through 21st centuries.  It is more than worthy to have a National Park Service Unit.  And I highly recommend anyone who reads this blog to take a trip to the post (and don't forget to stop in Phoebus, as well)

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