Friday, July 17, 2009

Can You Blame Them?

The Christ Lutheran Church in Gettysburg will remove two linden trees that "witnessed" the Battle of Gettysburg.

It is a tough but understandable decision. According to the Evening Sun, the trees are 170 years old and they lie in front of Chambersburg Street in Gettysburg. They are dying and pose a threat to the safety of passersby and to the buildings around them.

They also create a potential for liability. People like me have created this danger (yes, I am a lawyer). It's unfortunate that legal concerns override so much else, including our history. I wonder what we tort lawyers might have done after the Battle of Gettysburg. We might have sued General Lee for intentional infliction of emotional distress. As a defense lawyer, I might have responded, "Gentlemen, you assumed the risk. Fighting a battle is an inherently dangerous activity."

However, we Civil War buffs will gain something at Gettysburg. The National Park Service will soon be cutting down the trees at Culps Hill. They will make the site look similar to the way it did at the time of the battle. Visitors will soon be able to imagine the true historical conditions.

So we will lose trees but improve on a historical site.

What do you think of the church's decision?

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