December 7, 2015
Dear Cattaraugus County Legislators:
While I still teach at St. Bonaventure, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been a resident of Cattaraugus County. I now live on part of the Chancellorsville battlefield near Fredericksburg, Virginia, so I literally write to you today from the ground where the 154th New York engaged in one of its best-known actions.
I sympathize that you’ve inherited a run-down Civil War Memorial and Historical Building from previous legislatures, which should never have allowed the structure to fall into the disrepair that it has. You were dealt a bad hand and have been trying to make the best of it.
However, to ram through action on the building before the end of your legislative session seems irresponsible. Here is an instance where you SHOULD pass the work on to the next legislature, not to pass the buck but simply because the work is not yet finished. You have done laudable work thus far. Just because you’ve run out of time in this session doesn’t mean you need to push through a decision just for the sake of wrapping things up.
Previous legislatures ignored the problem, but you have made a good-faith effort to engage the situation and find the solution. You have set up the next legislature to see the hard work through, just as the Civil War veterans themselves had to see through the hard work they had been charged with.
Please delay a final decision on the fate of the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building. Charge the next legislature with seeing the work through. Certainly the efforts of CAMP will ensure that the issue does not fade into the background as so many previous legislatures have let it.
A one-size-fits-all monument to all county veterans is not the answer. The Civil War veterans themselves erected this monument to remind subsequent generations of their unique sacrifices. Those deeds took place so long ago that it’s easy to underestimate their importance today. However, I live on some of the ground they made sacred, so I’m constantly reminded how truly vital their work was.
Those men trusted subsequent generations to remember what they did. They put their faith in “us”. Please do not break faith with them.
Thank you for your consideration.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication
St. Bonaventure University