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11/01/2011

President Obama Designates Fort Monroe a National Monument

Ft Monroe
President Obama has announced that today he will designate a substantial portion of Fort Monroe as a national monument. Located in Hampton, Virginia, Fort Monroe played a pivotal role in emancipation, earning the name ‘Freedom’s Fortress.’ The monument designation is expected to help create nearly 3,000 jobs in Virginia as part of a larger Fort Monroe Reuse plan. 

“We applaud President Obama for using his authority to protect this important historical and natural area. Though it may be little known, Fort Monroe is among the most important historic sites in our country. It is also a prime example of much needed urban park land,” said Tyla Matteson, Chair of the York River Group of the Sierra Club. Matteson’s father served in the Army and retired at Fort Monroe, and her mother continues to enjoy bird watching there, having identified several dozen species. 

“This is a terrific accomplishment,” said Mark Perreault, President of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park. “This is the very first national monument designation by President Obama and we are very pleased that it is happening at Fort Monroe. We now have a much greater opportunity for this national treasure to reach its potential” 

During the Civil War, thousands of African Americans escaped slavery and found sanctuary at Fort Monroe.  This led to slavery's disintegration and transformed the Civil War into a war for freedom. In 1960, all 565 acres of Fort Monroe were designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today’s decision will ensure that important pieces of this landmark are protected for future generations.

Fort Monroe is also home to beautiful live oaks, some hundreds of years old and vibrant marine life. It lies along the Atlantic Coast flyway for migrating birds. 

The local Sierra Club, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park and other allies have worked for nearly 5 years to support the protection of this irreplaceable national treasure. 

“National monuments tell the story of our past and can help shape the experiences of future generations. From drawing tourists to providing local recreation opportunities, protecting our public lands can benefit us all,” said Matteson.   

Join us in thanking President Obama for using his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect Fort Monroe as a national monument! 

Photo courtesy USMilitary.com

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