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ROBERT E. LEE MIGHT NOT RECOGNIZE THE PLACE
Is Fredericksburg in Northern Virginia?

Date published: 5/11/2008

IS FREDERICKSBURG located in Northern Virginia?

If we could ask Robert E. Lee, a true Southerner and commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, he would say, "Yes, Fredericksburg is in Northern Virginia."

The real question is, "Are we losing our identity?"--a viable question for any small- to medium-size community anywhere in this country. With the proliferation of big-box stores and cookie-cutter subdivisions, the entire country is starting to look and feel and taste like Anywhere, USA. Regional characteristics are succumbing to a numbing homogeneity that hints of haunting sci-fi. "Where am I?" one can legitimately ask. Our sense of place is eroding.

For Fredericksburg, this is particularly dire, as we have much more identity to lose than many communities. We are blessed with historic resources of national importance, ones we should be touting to heritage tourists, yet our new identity is to be set by an African-themed water park.

This should galvanize our residents to action. We need to diligently protect our true character, for our residents and for the nation, but more importantly, we need to promote our differences as attributes. A water park, even a very large one, will not make Fredericksburg a unique tourist destination: There are more than 2,000 water parks in the country. Our sense of place is our history. Let's fight to protect it.

Robert E. Lee would understand.


Catherine A. Farley, an anti-sprawl activist, lives in Spotsylvania County.