Blind Commerce

September 30, 2010
By , Newtown, PA
The occasion of my been notified of the planned casino developments staged near the Gettysburg battlefields has brought forth the following response in the face of corruption, ignorance, impudence, insolence, greed, and all other aspects of the socially gangrened world that is 21st-century entertainment.

Being the citizen of a country with a glorious history filled with revolutionary, experimental, radical, and unprecedented ideals, events, and people, I could not help but vociferate about the new developments in the quaint little town of Gettysburg which will ultimately prove detrimental to a wide cross-section of the public, and illuminate the common sense which seems to have abandoned those with the reins of power and finances in their hands.

Recent plans have slowly started to evolve, circulating around a proposed casino on the grounds of the Gettysburg battlefield, the last stand for 17,000 men: brothers, fathers, sons, husbands, friends. In more metaphorical terms, the entertainment industry, and the detriments to society that trail in its wake, is to descend upon hallowed ground. The community and persons who partake in the struggle over whether or not to approve the establishment are divided. There are two primary aspects of the case: one from the view of a person that judges by the rules of common sense, patriotism, and for the wellbeing of their nation and their community. Then there is the business owner, the tourist yearning for a more exciting experience: commerce. I have decided, based on the principles abovementioned to place my stand with the former.

The greatest of historic icons in America adhered to the idea that “All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” America’s foundation stands on that proposition, and others that have placed in stone what it means to be human. Over the course of three days, in which the darkest forces of human nature and its devised machinations collided, those creeds were defined in the blood of Americans, persons of a nation divided. It was a test of who we are as a people, a test of the creeds dreamed by the founders. 17,000 souls sacrificed their lives for what they believed was the true course for the American nation. If we are to reflect upon ourselves, and the world that surrounds us, we are to be as blind as bats if we cannot distinguish the independence and freedoms we enjoy, and unfortunately, the inevitable truth that we are nearly sole in our happiness. We are bound to an eternal debt to the soldiers that perished through smoke-filled mornings and nights filled with screams of agony as they met their fate. It is difficult for many of us to comprehend and appreciate the true depth of the matter, but a visit to Gettysburg, land of gentle fields, quiet atmosphere, and bountiful nature, will change all that. People come from all over the nation to spend several moments of solemnity, whether over the grave of a general or atop a slope where the beauty that surrounds you was lost to musket shots, cannon fire, and death. The same air can be felt in the air of the town of Gettysburg, a cunning village that lives by the classical small-town credos that have defined America. Whatever emanates from an establishment such as a casino will ultimately clash with all that. As well, we would be foolish, ignorant, and disrespectful to trample such consecrated ground with corrupt businesses. It would seem as though the efforts of the men who perished there, and those before them in America’s wars, as well as those of the Founding Fathers, would be all for naught. It would leave a blot upon our reputation as a nation that stands by the concept “amor patriae ducit,” a reputation that is already slowing declining.
It truly doesn’t fit into the picture.

Like a lawyer engaged in a deep and intense case, I present my next point, which pertains to the socioeconomic and their separate affects. A history buff, my foremost concern is the division that is slowly driving away our citizens, especially the younger persons, from their past and their heritage. What can serve as a better distraction than a casino, especially considering the high levels of gambling addiction that have plagued America from the 1700’s and earlier. The focus, for the most part, would shift from an experience intended to educate a person about one of the most crucial events in American history and foster a deeper appreciation for and love of country to a more social and party-centered scene. Taking into consideration the stereotypes children possess about history, this will place them further from what is essential to our lives, and we are all well aware of what happens when we ignore history. This further connects to another issue, which perfectly segways into the economic implications.
If one studies the majority of persons employed at the park, there are few die-hard history buffs. Many may even be volunteers. Coupled with the plight of our financial standing, a casino offers high prospects, regardless of its rude entry onto reverenced ground. Reenactors, especially, provide for a more engaging, interesting, and exciting environment. If they are to be drawn away by high financial hopes, that all would die, including the tourism, which, as in a chain of dominos, could possibly have disastrous effects on the town, which relies heavily on the peaceful fields strewn with graves and shrines. Now look at the population that tends to accompany a casino: corrupt businessmen, prostitutes, criminals, and all the other negative facets of our society. How can one even look upon a charming little town such as Gettysburg being overrun with such social mishaps and not feel a tinge of sadness? That would deliver even greater blows to tourism levels- depending on which side of the spectrum you’re on.

Then it becomes a matter of respect and common sense. Respect, not only for a national shrine, but for the people inhabiting Gettysburg, and common sense in general. In a documentary made upon the subject, one resident, a public defendant, stated that 80% of the cases with which she had dealt related to gambling addiction. A casino, so close and so easily accessible, would only ruin more lives beyond those who are diseased. Another inhabitant complained that the installation would be placed in front of her home, the lights and the sounds of the nighttime activity affording no room for daily comforts which she enjoyed, such as sitting out on her front porch. Others are angered that such a monument, one that they have gratefully embraced as their own, and theirs to preserve and take care of, would be so vilely intruded upon. One would have to be truly blind to come barging in, acting with all the air of a Wall Street “fat cat,” and have little or no regard for the people. It is similar to the all-too familiar scene of the no-swimming sign with garments draped over it. In the field of common sense, there is little explaining to be done, unless you are entirely ignorant of the past. As one actor, Matthew Broderick, who played the character of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in the film Glory and participant in the documentary, pointed out, there are dozens, hundreds upon hundreds, thousands upon thousands of places elsewhere that a casino may be placed. If the developers think that this will further boost the economy of Gettysburg, they are much mistaken. It will boost a town down on its luck, not a town that houses one of America’s greatest shrines to human freedoms.

In conclusion, our legacy and our posterity will be stained if we permit such a felony to occur. It is the job of every citizen, whether or not inhabiting Gettysburg or Pennsylvania, to ensure that these places, the events, and the people that are connected to them are not overrun and forgotten. If would be a slap to the lifelong work of the Founding Fathers. To the state of Pennsylvania, the state Gaming Control Board, the developers of this casino, and to the citizens of our nation, I beseech you to look once again at the abyss of whose edge we traverse precariously. Millions of men did not die so that their places of last stand may be shadowed by our foolish toys of entertainment.





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