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When it becomes personal......

By Connie Shannon  Posted by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster (about the submitter)     Permalink

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I read the news the other day our Military wants to ‘purchase’  418,000 acres of private ranch land surrounding Walsenburg, Colorado
so they can triple the size of their Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, a training area.

You read it right - 418,000 acres.

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Like others, I have some questions as to exactly what they plan to be training for here in the states.

The latest land grab by the US Military is being met, thankfully, with resistance by those who have lived and ranched in the area for generations.

I haven’t ever lived in Walsenburg, although the news struck me on somewhat of a personal level.

The town was founded by my great grandfather Fred Walsen.

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I never knew my great grandfather.

We were decades a part in both years and generations.

What I’ve learned out about him through the limited sources I’ve run across, was he probably wasn’t in the running for the Mr. Congeniality award.

My great grandfather ‘Fred’ amassed quite a fortune off of the land of southeastern Colorado, via its coal, cattle, and through his investments in the new railroads which were quickly sprawling across the plains of the heartland.

If there were profits to be had and/or property to be confiscated, and there was, my grandfather and other primarily European males, seized upon the opportunities before them.  

Fast forward to the present - the land of southern Colorado is now the latest seizure of land attempted to be grabbed by our ever growing US  “Military Industrial Complex”.  

President Eisenhower warned of such a complex in his last Presidential address to the nation.  

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Now we see our own military using its Washington DC money, power and might against the folks of Southeastern Colorado.

Back in the late 1800’s, my great grandfather Fred built a trading post with his partner, settled in, and had a town incorporated into his name in an area frankly, which already had a name.

La Plaza de los Leones was an established Spanish community before my Grandfather came along.

One might wonder how such a change was met by those who had already settled there.

Walsen and his partner brought supplies and things individuals desired, provided some convenience and work ‘opportunities’, and yet, as such, one could say he also received much in return. It could be argued more than his fair share. He and others capitalized (no pun intended) upon an opportunity and a land, that by certain standards, didn’t necessarily belong to him or to others.

Which could invite the subject of property ownership in general, but that’s a whole other topic isnt it? 

Or is it?

Although my great grandfather is not here to defend his actions, nor would he even want to, I think its worth saying my great grandfather took what liberties he did, because like others, he could.  

Isn’t that how it always happens?

As I look at a pattern which over the long haul, doesn’t seem to benefit anyone but those in the single digit numbers, I have a few questions that warrant asking.

I think the questions are difficult.   They challenge a belief system most of us have grown up to accept without question or doubt.  

Yet, we are now facing a very similar situation that so many others before us have experienced.

Situations we have ignored because we believed they didn’t apply to us.

Apparently they do.

Now we have a government which is assuming and taking land and resources in whatever name necessary that allows them to confiscate the land at the expense of our livlihoods and rights as citizens.

So perhaps its time to look at what has been overlooked for years - questions which should have been accurately addressed centuries ago..

such as. ……

When do we begin take a larger look at the ownership issue overall, who it benefits and who it doesn’t benefit, and does it benefit anyone overall?  

When might we look at the fundamental flaws in allowing the apprehension and accumulation of land and resources by a select few who, in reality are not necessarily owners of that property any more than the residents who settled there before them?

What right does the military, or anyone else, have to take land from citizens who have settled there and been there for generations?

When do we learn how to share the land that is all of ours to share, to respect and appreciate?

As history repeats and the land grabs continue, it would seem the chickens are now coming home to roost in our own backyard, on many well meaning Americans who have wanted nothing more than a good life with their families and friends.

What are we going to do about it?
Just as the many others who went before them, it seems we have ignored the injustices happening to others, thinking our way of life would not be affected.  

We have historically disregarded and intentionally ignored others loss, tragedy and suffering, which so often includes loss of hearth and home, because it hasn’t directly affected us.   

When one group is betrayed and/or threatened, every group stands to be jeopardized.

Isn’t it time to consider a reality that other people’s pain is ultimately our own to bear as well?

The sooner we comprehend such a truth, seems to me the better for us all.

From there, we could actually begin to create communities which better share both the resources as well as the responsibilities, along with having communities which are governed more by everyone and not simply a select paid off few who relish power, prestige and control more than doing the right thing and what is in the highest good for all.    

We’ve been there, done that - and as they say, got the ripped t-shirt.


Original source - Army site expansion angers ranchers -


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