Monday, May 25, 2009 at 5:42AM
I hate Wal Mart.
I wish I could tell you that I hate it for political, social or ethical reasons.
I hate Wal Mart because it's dirty. And shady. And just gross. And no matter how respectable and dignified a person might think they are, the moment they walk into a Wal Mart they become human trash scouring filth laden aisles for the cheapest prices on items manufactured in poorly regulated overseas factories that will most likely kill us all because said items are infused with lead, mercury and God-only-knows-what.
OK, maybe it's not that bad. But... it's close.
More full disclosure?
I love history. Particularly the history of the American Civil War. I think this era represents a formative point in our nation's history. I also think too many Americans, in general, live in ignorance of how the events of this particular era directly affect the way in which we still approach the basic ideals of freedom, nationalism and government.
What do my love of history and disdain for Wal Mart have to do with one another?
About 145 years ago, Generals Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee faced one another for the first time on a battlefield in Locust Grove, Va. in what became known as the Battle of the Wilderness. It was a definitive battle, according to some historians. It represented a turning point in that many argue that the Confederacy lost its offensive edge beginning with this battle.
In a few months, it seems there will be a Wal Mart looming over this battlefield, roughly across the street.
It's an interesting situation.
Some of the residents of this area support the initiative of this Wal Mart, citing that it will bring needed economic development to the area.
Others, for obvious reason, are horrified by the idea that extra low prices will be touted just steps away from a place in which more men lost their lives in service to this nation than both of the Gulf wars combined.
Me? Here's what I think.
I think that a historical landmark in and of itself is a viable opportunity for economic growth and development. I think we have a lot of Wal Marts, but we only have one battlefield where Grant's men and Lee's men first faced each other.
I don't like the idea of a Wal Mart being anywhere near this nationally sacred (yes, sacred) place... this place where many men offered their lives simply so that their version of American ideals would live on.
If the citizens of Locust Grove are looking for economic growth, Wal Mart is an expedient, but poor choice.
But, I don't live in Locust Grove, Virginia.
Maybe they need these jobs really badly?
Maybe arguments of preservation, identity and national treasure are a bit ivory tower for people who are standing in an unemployment line or might have had to apply for government aid for the first time in their lives?
It's a difficult situation and the most that I'm willing to commit to is an opinion that wavers precariously whenever I consider that my tendency to lean towards historical preservation has a very real human cost.
My God, I do hate Wal Mart, though.
P.S. Be sure to enjoy your Memorial Day. And the meat you'll be barbequeing. Which was no doubt purchased at extra low prices. Sigh.