At a time when the rest of the country is seeking to destroy commemorations of the Civil War, one small community in rural Maryland is attempting to conserve them.
City council members in Taneytown, Maryland, excluding a single objector, have chosen to support the construction of a new Civil War memorial in hopes it will increase tourism revenue for their community.
The proposed memorial, according to sculptor Gary Casteel, includes a 90-foot circular monument with 10-foot high granite walls encircling two soldiers “in their reunion uniforms,” on a bench speaking to children. The memorial will also include bronze figures and portraits of influential military leaders, as well as panels explaining key moments in the war.
Opposition Councilman Bradley Wantz, during a meeting on Feb. 6, stated that he is “wholly opposed” to the idea despite his colleagues sweeping approval. “I just want to make it clear that it may seem like the council is standing together on this and, right now, we’re not because I’m opposed,” he said.
A point of concern for Wantz is the appearance of John Wilkes Booth as one of the key historical figures, but Casteel rebuffed these concerns, indicating that he had consulted with over 30 top historians to assemble the list of historical figures for the memorial.
Concerns over the proposed memorial from Wantz are not just limited to its contents. According to the Carrol County Times, Wentz also questions the benefit the memorial would ultimately bring to Taneytown.
A 2013 report by the Civil War Trust stated that 31 percent of individuals are “extremely interested” in visiting a Civil War site, totaling approximately 72.2 million potential civil war tourists each year.
Across five states, approximately 15.8 million visitors to 15 civil war battlefields generates an annual economic contribution of greater than $248 million to local communities, according to the same report.
Taneytown’s close proximity to Gettysburg gives them the opportunity to stand out amongst the country’s top civil war memorials.
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