The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation has pushed back against accusations by two former board members that the board has not taken safety concerns seriously enough in its handling of the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek.
The foundation released a statement that it has no planned events during the anniversary of the battle on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21.
“In light of these turbulent and fractured times, we recognize that public safety remains one of our highest priorities – as does our commitment to values of decency, freedom of expression and public service,” the statement reads.
In an email, Jeanette Shaffer, the foundation’s interim president, stated that the foundation would not be sponsoring any events at the 154th anniversary Battle of Cedar Creek weekend. But she added that the board is “actively considering ways to commemorate the anniversary and support the community and the public interest.”
“We are also considering current developments so as to assess how best to continue to support and achieve our goals and the interests of the public,” Shaffer stated. “As always, we welcome any constructive input from concerned members of the public.”
While the battlefield foundation does not have any planned events during the anniversary weekend, Middletown will hold its annual luminary event, where residents light candles in honor of the soldiers who died during the Battle of Cedar Creek.
Also, Belle Grove Plantation and the National Park Service have planned events that weekend. The foundation, in its statement, encouraged people to attend those events.
“We sincerely hope that folks will come out and join Middletown and our battlefield partners, Belle Grove and the U.S. Park Service, as they commemorate the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek,” the statement reads.
The foundation’s statement comes after two former board members, Joe D’Arezzo and Karl Schildknecht, resigned, citing safety concerns during the Battle of Cedar Creek anniversary weekend.
According to Schildknecht, letters in the spring threatened the foundation’s annual re-enactment event. After the foundation learned of those letters, Schildknecht said, it canceled its annual re-enactment.
Shaffer declined to comment on the reason for the cancellation or state whether or not she has concerns about the safety of events that weekend, adding that it is part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation.
“We do not know if there are any risks to any other Civil War-related commemorative events on the Battle of Cedar Creek anniversary, those pending or having already occurred,” Shaffer stated. “Because all matters relating to developments, at least some of which have already been discussed in the media, are, as we understand it, subject to ongoing investigation by law enforcement, we do not currently feel that this is a proper subject for speculation by [the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation]. However, as we noted, we have canceled the CCBF reenactment event out of concerns for safety. We believe this is well known.”