When the telephone rings at 6:15 a.m., it’s usually not a call to duty but a call of alarm. Forrest “Chip” Craver ’65’s phone call at that early hour a few months ago began his involvement in an important cause that has spurred the emotions of history buffs around the nation.
|Forrest “Chip” Craver visits one of his favorite sites on the Gettysburg battlefield, Devil’s Den.
Since that April call from Muriel Rice, a family friend and influential citizen of Gettysburg, Pa., Craver has helped to lead a group of volunteers in an ever-growing protest. They call their nonprofit coalition No Casino Gettysburg, for it aims to stop the building of a casino a mile and a half from the historic battlefield.
“I have very special and intense feelings about Gettysburg,” says Craver, a native of the town. Though based in Alexandria, Va., he owns a second home in Gettysburg. Gettysburgians, he says, “are the stewards for this national and international treasure.”
Chance Enterprises, the group behind the proposed casino, plans to build a 200-room hotel and a 3,000-slot-machine casino. Proponents claim gambling revenues will help reduce homeowners’ property taxes in Pennsylvania. They feel a casino would boost tourism and say that the casino would be tasteful in style, not a flashy Vegas-style resort.
While Craver and his comrades have heard and considered these arguments, they are not swayed. “There is a much larger story here than simply the site of a building,” Craver declares. “Vegas has the highest suicide rate in the [country]. There is no such thing as just a little gambling.”
Many of those opposed feel that Gettysburg’s battlefield is hallowed ground, a place of reverence. “This was the site of Lincoln’s address,” Craver notes. “This battle was the largest loss of life at one time in North America.”
Craver’s passion for the preservation of national history has led No Casino Gettysburg to a successful Web-site petition campaign, local newspaper advertising and a series of community events, including a candlelight vigil. No Casino Gettysburg is joined in the fight by four national partners: the National Council of the Churches of Christ, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Parks and Conservation Association.
Craver has been actively involved in humanitarian causes and civil rights for most of his life. Before he ever entered Dickinson his mother taught him to have empathy for those less fortunate.
He and brother Roger ’63 were the second generation of Cravers to attend the college. Their grandfather was the legendary professor and coach Forrest “Cap” Craver, class of 1899. Chip’s son, Andrew ’98, continued the legacy.
“Dickinson deepened and reinforced my interest in social causes and increased my ability to ask the hard questions,” recalls Chip Craver, who majored in sociology. “I began looking for specific places where I could be an influence.”
Craver joined Army ROTC at Dickinson and became a military police officer with the 87th Airborne Division after graduation. In 1967 he was stationed in the Dominican Republic. “I saw firsthand the wretched misery of Third World countries,” he states. This experience only strengthened Craver’s resolve to make a difference in the world.
He has done so by crafting direct-mail fund-raising pieces for groups such as Amnesty International, CARE, the American Civil Liberties Union and Hands Across America.
“When my sons asked me why I do what I do,” he recalls, “I responded that I cannot think of another profession with such an impact.” Craver plans to continue making an impact on the world for many years to come.
Today, his company, Forrest Craver: Creative Fundraising Services and Consulting, provides strategic marketing for nonprofit organizations.
His largest client is Church World Service, which provides refugee relief for women and children in more than 87 countries. Along with helping major organizations, Craver says, “I’ve done a lot to help people with visions start something.” Case in point: No Casino Gettysburg.
Craver is confident that the group’s public efforts to get the word out about the casino will be successful. “It’s a story of vile villains and huggable heroes,” he says with a smile.
For more information, go to: www.nocasinogettysburg.org or www.civilwar.org