Save the TowerNow that Maryland has its own official...


November 25, 1994

Save the Tower

Now that Maryland has its own official monument at the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., the old brawl over demolition of the observation tower is again in the news.

Ironically, the spire was designed and built on a low budget by a Maryland firm about 20 years ago.

I'm inclined to agree that the tower doesn't do a thing to enhance beauty of the battlefield or its surroundings. And its presence does nothing to make the battlefield any more valuable as a national historic treasure.

But its value could be a resource in some ways.

If we were to ask what is the most important reason ecology is such a national priority nowadays, the answer would probably be our quest for space exploration. For years now, satellites have shown our little spaceship surrounded by a thin layer of atmosphere, unique in all of its beauty.

The ecological shot heard round the world was Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a best-seller about the time we began seeing pictures of the earth taken from space.

So, what has space travel got to do with the Gettysburg tower? What the tower does is give the visitor a panoramic view of the region and not just the battlefield, in much the way that satellite photographs show not just Baltimore but the Chesapeake region.

The tower could be a good way of keeping preservation of the battlefield and area around it foremost in the minds of everyone.

Of all the accouterments on or near the battlefield, the tower is my favorite. I've enjoyed it several times in recent years.

To have a bird's eye view of such a historic place is a real treat. It allows me to see the entire battlefield at my own pace, not at the pace of a tour guide or museum program.

Once on a very windy day in the early spring, I disobeyed a sign which forbade entrance to the uppermost deck of the tower.

I had to hang on for dear life as the wind at 307 feet was definitely for championship kite flying. It almost blew me over. The feeling I had afterward was very much like the one I have after going for a swim in the ocean.

As we continue to squabble over the preservation or demolition of the tower, let's ask if all this bickering would be taking place if some entrepreneur wanted to open a 500,000-square-foot shopping mall or outlet center near the battlefield.

Probably not. We'd probably just accept increased traffic congestion, crime, pollution and land desecration as inevitable ingredients of the American dream.

Jamie Blount



This is a response to the Opinion * Commentary column of Peter Jay Oct. 20, "The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Statistical Jungle."

The editorial choice to use that terminology as a headline for a commentary on a book which questions the intellectual ability of black people is an insult. It is difficult to believe that it was unintentional. An apology is called for.

The repeated assertion that IQ differences between black people and white people has been a matter of "continued censorship," "taboo," "unmentionable" and "a blackout" is patently false. There has been no attempt to censor.

As any college freshman can tell you, the issue has been studied in depth by sociologists, educators, anthropologists and other experts. The results of their studies are printed in any Sociology 101 textbook and elaborated on in any number of scholarly books.

Contrary to the commentator's contention, "intellectual freedom" has not been threatened or even "limited".

If the authors of "The Bell Curve" had spent their time writing an 845-page book on the cumulative effects of 250 years of racism, they would have clear answers to their questions.

The myth of white superiority has been around too long. It's time to label it for what it is -- pure bunk.

Margie Ashe


Negative Bias

Rob Hiaasen's Nov. 16 story on the Public Relations Society of America's annual convention in Baltimore was appalling.

I believe the reporter showed a negative bias and displayed an embarrassing lack of knowledge about the public relations profession.

Certainly one aspect of public relations is encouraging the media to write stories about corporations, non-profit organizations, public programs and other news issues. But to think that a practitioner's role is limited to baby sitting the media is short-sighted and naive.

While examining new developments in industry trends, technology and tactics were central in this year's PRSA convention, much of the meeting was focused on enhancing skills in areas ranging from writing and media relations to management and research.

In addition, the conference addressed topical issues that affect Americans such as corporate downsizing and the growing lack of confidence in government.

Perhaps Mr. Hiaasen's article was intended to be a comedic essay, in the style of Kevin Cowherd's genuinely funny "The Flip Side," but it was not labeled as such.

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