Apology owed to homeowners, touristsPublished 12:12am Friday, May 3, 2013
I read with disdain the letter to the editor dated April 7 “Enlighten Tourists with Facts, Not Fiction.” As Mr. Mansell wishes to enlighten tourists (and obviously, subscribers of this newspaper) with facts, he needs to first get a few of his own correct.
Knowing the owner of the home referenced, it is my opinion that this tour is one of the best in town — both factual and fascinating. The story in question is not only substantiated by two descendants who authored books on their family home, but furthermore, the date Mr. Mansell assumed was never actually given during the tour. The entire episode should have been better researched by a historian at Mansell’s level.
The question I have is this: what was Mr. Mansell’s motive? Was it to get the facts straight? He did not. If it was instead to humiliate the gracious homeowners who help the economic impact and livelihood of this city in a very public way, then mission accomplished! He could have easily chosen the more gentlemanly course by contacting the homeowner to substantiate facts; however, because of his method a personal matter has become a business one because of his use of the National Park Service name. The Park Service should be in the business of encouraging private homeowners in their sacrificial endeavors to open their doors for the economic benefit of this community. This is all done for a constructive purpose; therefore, there does not need to be destructive criticism from this government agency.
I can also ascertain that every homeowner has made a concerted effort in the last few years to raise the bar on their presentations. They have had a tremendous success this pilgrimage season as a testament to this effort. Moreover, from my point of view, these “gullible tourists” (as they were referred to) are not usually craving boring facts in the first place; rather, many desire and even expect well-presented tales by good storytellers (this is the South after all!). Some are even relieved when they are not always presented with a timeline or pictures of dead ancestors. Many are here for the entertainment factor and escapism from everyday drudgery. Since for the price of each home tour they can instead attend a two-hour action-packed movie, many feel this should be a consideration. Because if these visitors can be made to laugh, feel welcomed and engaged, and relish the flavor of this unique area, that to me is much more important than making sure every word is factual — we shall leave the dry stuff to the government. With no accountability to any accreditation, we in the private sector are instead making the magic happen, and people have been coming to pilgrimage for over 80 years because of it!