U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., reintroduced the Preserving America’s Battlefields Act, S.225, on Thursday to ensure our nation’s living memorials honoring those who fought for our freedoms are protected for current and future generations.
The bipartisan legislation would provide for the restoration of battlefield sites across the country, helping transform them into historic tourism destinations. Specifically, it would help foster partnerships between state and local governments, regional entities and the private sector to preserve and conserve the land and enhance the visitor experience at nationally significant battlefields of the American Revolution, War of 1812 and the Civil War.
“I’m glad to reintroduce this legislation to help preserve our great American history for future generations,” said Isakson. “The ground where American soldiers fought and died is sacred, and as chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to honoring their sacrifice. Additionally, this bill draws in resources from both the public and private sector to help ensure we are protecting and preserving our most vulnerable battlefield sites.”
“Virginia has more Civil War battlefields than any other state, and it’s important to preserve these open spaces so that future generations can visit, reflect on our history, and learn from it,” said Kaine.
“The sacrifices made on battlefields in Missouri and across the country forever changed the course of American life,” said Blunt. “As a former history teacher, I know how inspiring it can be for people to visit historical sites. I’m proud to support this bill, which will help preserve our nation’s story for future generations.”
The Preserving America’s Battlefields Act would reauthorize the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program, which is a matching grants program that promotes preservation of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War battlegrounds. The grants, awarded by the American Battlefield Protection Program, encourage state and private investment in battlefield preservation.
There are 243 Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefield sites and 282 Civil War battlefield sites across the country that have been identified as national preservation priorities by the National Park Service.
Historically, battlefields across the country have been preserved through Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants, including more than 30,000 acres in 20 states. Those sites include: Antietam, Md.; Appomattox and Fredericksburg, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Chickamauga, Ga.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Princeton, N.J.; Shiloh, Tenn.; and Wilson’s Creek, Mo.
The Preserving America’s Battlefields Acts would increase the authorization of the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program to $20 million a year, including up to $2 million a year for the restoration and interpretation of high-priority battlefields sites, helping to transform these sites into historic tourism destinations.
The U.S. House of Representatives previously passed companion legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Jody Hice, R-Ga.-10, during the 115th Congress. Hice reintroduced the legislation earlier this month as H.R.307.
The legislation is supported by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation as well as the American Battlefield Trust, a national nonprofit dedicated to preserving America’s Civil War, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields.
“This legislation will ensure that important landscapes and lessons from our nation’s past are preserved for generations to come,” said former University of Georgia football Coach Vince Dooley, a member of the American Battlefield Trust’s Board of Trustees. “The National Park Service’s Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant Program is one of the most successful land-preservation efforts in U.S. history, having been used to protect more than 30,000 acres of hallowed ground in 20 states. We are incredibly grateful to the senators leading this effort for their commitment to preserving our nation’s heritage.”
The full text of the legislation can be found here.