Fort Monroe Authority Chair, Secretary Terrie Suit, and Hampton Mayor, Molly Ward's Support for a National Park Service Unit at Fort Monroe is Echoed by Local Citizens
– Citizens of Hampton Roads Come Together to Show Their Unity in Elevating Fort Monroe's History to the National Level –
HAMPTON - Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, Terrie Suit, today acknowledged the great turnout and showing of support at last night's Fort Monroe public hearing held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, VA. Over 800 citizens showed up to voice their opinions to the National Park Service on Tuesday. All levels of government including members of Congress, members of the state House and Senate, local mayors and city council members all came together to represent the Commonwealth. Audience members from all walks of life including the armed services, historians, teachers, parents, environmentalists, tourists and life-long Hampton residents also came to show their approval.
Many organizations also offered their support to include the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia, Hampton Roads Partnership, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Hampton Watch and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
"I'm extremely pleased to see the outstanding support we are receiving from the public," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit who is also the Chairman of the Fort Monroe Authority. "Our ability to show our unity as a Commonwealth will go a long way in seeing us accomplish our goal of preserving the tremendous historical value that Fort Monroe has not only to Virginia, but the nation."
Familiar refrains heard throughout the night from the public included "Let's get it done" and "Thanks for listening." So many people wanted to voice their opinions that both two hour public hearings went thirty minutes over.
"The National Park Service meetings in Hampton on July 19 were an equivocal success," said Hampton Mayor Molly Ward. "Citizens from all over the region and the East Coast came to the Hampton Roads Convention Center to voice their support for a National Park Service presence at Fort Monroe through legislation or an Antiquities Act designation by the President. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, business leaders, regional organizations, state and national conservation organizations all made their support known. The Hampton Roads community undoubtedly wants Fort Monroe to be the next great urban park."
Resonating loudly and becoming a general theme during the evening was the virtually unanimous support for the National Park Service creating a unit at Fort Monroe and for the President using the Antiquities Act to designate it a National Monument. Continuing to pursue legislation through Congress was another important theme that was touted as making this project a reality.
Fort Monroe is steeped in history from the days of the Kecoughtan Indians to Captain John Smith's first landing at Point Comfort, the arrival of the first Africans brought to the New World, and the beginning of the end of slavery through the famous "Contraband" decision by Major General Benjamin Butler. Natural assets at Fort Monroe include two miles of beachfront along the Chesapeake Bay, two miles of marsh front and live oaks that date back several centuries. The Fort Monroe Authority, the City of Hampton, and Commonwealth of Virginia have supported this endeavor from the beginning. They have collectively lead the call for the National Park designation and sincerely wish to thank those who attended yesterday.
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