Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Wilderness Walmart plaintiffs, friends group receive national honor

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

This short news item, written on deadline late Saturday night from near Dulles airport, should have been on Sunday– but I’ve not seen it (glitches happen):

CHANTILLY–Yesterday evening was a moment to savor for the Fredericksburg-area residents who led the charge against the Wilderness Walmart.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit to halt Walmart’s development at the Wilderness were honored last night with one of historic preservation’s highest honors, presented by the Civil War Trust during its annual conference here.

Orange County residents Curtis Abel, Dale Brown, Sheila Clark, Susan Caton, Dwight Mottet and Craig Rains, Spotsylvania County resident Dale Brown and the local Friends of Wilderness Battlefield received the trust’s Carrington Williams Battlefield Preservationist of the Year Award.

Trust President Jim Lighthizer presented the award, named for the first chairman of the Civil War Trust, to the six individuals and the friends group for their “courageous and very public stand on behalf of the Wilderness battlefield.”

Their 2 1/2 year campaign against Walmart’s proposal and later lawsuit against Orange County came at considerable personal cost, Lighthizer said of the six plaintiffs and the local members of FOWB.

“They had to put with a lot of grief every time they went into the grocery store or to buy stamps or in other places in their community,” he said. “It was not easy, but they hung in here.”

In January, on the lawsuit’s second day of trial in Orange County Circuit Court, Walmart unexpectedly announced it was dropping its project at State Routes 3 and 20, and would find an alternative site in Orange on which to build its Supercenter.

“People said we couldn’t do it, but we did,” FOWB President Zann Nelson told more than 400 attendees at the trust’s conference near the Manassas battlefields.

Of those who criticized the local preservation advocates, Nelson said, “We hope that, one day, their children may thank us for what we did.”

Virginia resident Robert Rosenbaum, who led the legal team at Arnold & Porter, the Washington law firm that spearheaded a $2.5 million pro-bono effort against the Walmart retail center, received the 55,000-member trust’s Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award–another of its top honors.