Tuesday, January 8, 2013

warming up

The sun rising over the living history camp during the 150th anniversary events at Stones River National Battlefield. 

After a holiday hiatus from writing (a product of many factors), I am feeling my itch to start posting the series of jumbled thoughts. Didn't I say this was going to be a place for me to do that? I believe so. I spent over a week volunteering at Stones River National Battlefield for the sesquicentennial events held there over the New Years holiday. There are many things I want to say about the events and some of my perceptions of the events. However, I think I will keep this first post of 2013 fairly short.

During my stay in Murfreesboro, I encountered a fair number of familiar faces, especially when I headed around town. Most of the conversations echoed something of this nature:

"Hey, Elizabeth! What a surprise! What brings you to town?"

"I am spending the week at the battlefield."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah. It's the 150th anniversary of the battle."


The "and" generally ended with a puzzled look. The "and" usually meant "so what?" and was probably accompanied by the thought "oh, there goes that nerd girl and her history again." Even with the heavier press coverage about the events, many locals were still unaware of the significance of the dates. The "and" usually prompted me to add a line or two about what I was doing, that they should visit, and how are things before parting ways.

Seriously, though. And? What is it about the numbers 1 and 5 and 0 that are so important? Because the word "ses-kwee-centennial" is fun to sound out? Because "150" is easier to use when designing commemorative brochures and tshirts? The 150th anniversary of American Civil War, when strictly going by the Sumter-to-Appomatox dates, is nearly halfway over (or still has half of the anniversary left, for you glass-half-full types).


I am interested in how others assess the success of commemorative events of the American Civil War. I won't deny my disappointment in knowing people who don't know the significance of historic sites or events. I plan to write more expanding on these thoughts soon enough, but for now I continue to chew on the "so what" embedded in that "and."


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