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.