We wanted to bring you a bit of insight on our court case with the National Park Service. You may recall, at our initial pleading in the New Orleans branch of Federal Court, we proposed a settlement to the US Attorney that was rejected. The reason given for the rejection was that we had committed additional infractions besides “illegal guiding” that day at Chalmette Battlefield. We were told that we were not cited for those, so we were actually getting off easy with just the “illegal guiding” charge. Remember also, that we were not ticketed or even warned of any violations while we were at Chalmette, but learned of this two months later when a citation arrived via certified mail.
Major General Andrew Jackson’s Americans
General Edward Pakenham’s British Forces
One of the additional offenses we are accused of is staging an “unauthorized reenactment” on National Park Grounds. This sounds as if we brought in soldiers with rifles, maybe some cannons or horse cavalry and had a big noisy battle. While we do enjoy a genuine reenactment and incorporate them on some of our tours, like the Battle of New Market on our Shenandoah Valley Tour May 17-20, we only attend them, not host them.
Below is a video of our “unauthorized reenactment” — 57 seconds long, 8 toy rifles, 2 flags, 6 children, 1 dad and 2 grandfathers. If this is a crime, we are all in trouble.
We also received a warning stating that the Park Service had gone to our web site and seen a picture of Mr. Potter on the Chalmette grounds with a black powder rifle, which is illegal. What they could not see, and did not ask, is the touch hole is soldered over, rendering it impossible to fire the rifle. It was a prop, like the one in the waistband of the local tour guide pictured below greeting one of our D-Day veterans we were honoring.
D-Day Veteran Herb Griffin Meets 1812 Veteran Jean LaFitte
So, our case appears to be headed for trial May 16 in the Federal Court of New Orleans because of our perceived disregard for the law. And in spite of this, the benevolent National Park Service purports to show us mercy. Keep in mind we have visited nearly 50 unique sites governed by the National Park Service in the past five years — many of them annually — and had only once been required to get a permit and that, understandably, was when we took 7 motor coaches and 350 people onto the Battlefield at the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg.
Landmark Events and the Park Service share a common goal to educate people about the past, though with very different views of how and why it happened. We have a wonderful relationship with the vast majority of the sites we visit, but there is a growing shift in NPS philosophy that has us very concerned, and this Chalmette episode is a good example. In simplest terms, we perceive the Park Service moving to be the sole source of information on taxpayer-owned sites, and that is not a good scenario. That’s why we are taking this stand and asking for your help.
Studying History Where it Happened with Landmark Events!
Again, we are grateful for your prayers and encouragement for our ministry. We are more determined than ever to continue our work of bringing hope to God’s people with precise, scholarly teaching and by testifying to His everlasting mercy, on public lands and elsewhere. We will keep you posted on our progress and ask that you continue to appeal to Heaven for wisdom and provision.
On December 6, Landmark Events Historian Bill Potter and I will appear in Federal Court in New Orleans to answer charges of “illegal guiding” in a National Park. Two months after hosting a tour at Chalmette Battlefield in New Orleans, a certified letter arrived notifying us of our alleged crime, complete with return addressed envelope to remit the penalty for such an offense. After prayer and wise counsel, we are determined to contest the case as a matter of principle, standing up for our right to speak the truth on public lands.
We Know What Your Children Need to Know…
There is a noticeable shift taking place within the National Park Service from helpful civil servants, as many staff still are, to heavy handed gatekeepers emboldened with power and governed by political correctness. As you are probably aware, Landmark Events seeks to teach history from a biblical, “providential” perspective — a Christian worldview lens. In the three years we have been in operation, we have increasingly encountered resistance to our historians guiding tours at national battlefield parks like Ft. Sumter in Charleston, SC., Bunker Hill in Boston, and now Chalmette Plantation in New Orleans. On one occasion, after declining to send our children on a “special kids’ tour” we were told with the scorn of the anointed, that “we know what your children need to know.” The implication of course is that we do not have that rarified knowledge.
National Parks Service Director
The Landmark Events group at Chalmette Battlefield
The Religion of the National Park Service “It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds.”
On June 24, President Obama recognized the Stonewall National Monument as the country’s first monument to honor the history of the LGBTQ community in America. On October 23, the Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, appointed by President Obama in 2009, and responsible for the new values of the Park Service, joined Interior Secretary Sally Jewel on a conference call to discuss the National Park Service release of LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. . . Jarvis said they have identified 1,300 LGBTQ landmarks for consideration for historic designation.
You see, Landmark Events and the National Park Service are both in the education business and both deeply religious. Landmark specializes in taking our customers to the places where great events occur and interpreting those events through the lens of Scripture as acts of a sovereign and benevolent God who has established His law and defined right from wrong. The NPS has adopted “Equality” as its guiding principle as stated by Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation, which financially supported the study:
“Equality has now become the way the federal government does business. It’s that commitment that led the National Park Service to produce this landmark study,” he said. “It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds.” (Read the full article here)
Stonewall National Monument,
New York City2
The Minuteman Statue in Lexington, Massachusetts
What’s at Stake and What You Can Do
We need your help, both in prayer and financially. Pray that we would be wise like the apostle Paul during his trial, asserting his rights forcefully, yet always for God’s glory and not personal gain. If the truth is important to you, and having your children know the truth, then we ask that you prayerfully consider supporting the work of Landmark Events and particularly our current battle for your right to hear what God has done on the sites where they occurred. A new line has been drawn for how American history should be remembered and taught. We need to take our stand now, before, once again, the American people find the story of their country revised and the resistance silenced.