|NPS Historic Weapons Training. That's me in the|
Confederate uniform at center. Photo: J. Cadoff
|Instead of simply relying on the guns to get visitors' attention |
in hopes that they'll hear the rest of our stories, what if we
use the guns to tell a story? Photo: C. Barr
After two weeks of thinking about historic weapons in terms of safety and execution, I started thinking about what’s next. How do we interpret these weapons? Historic weapons demonstrations are among the most popular programs in the National Park Service, reaching more than a million visitors annually. Park staff and volunteers conduct many of these programs, while reenactor groups who work with parks do others. That’s a lot of visitors, volunteers, and partners that form an audience ripe for an interpretive experience. Thinking back to the dozens of weapons demonstrations I’ve been to, it occurs to me that in almost every one of these the firing of the weapon was the climax of the program. BANG! Thanks for visiting. Where’s the bookstore? The programs were always safe and gave visitors an idea of how these weapons functioned. But what if instead of simply interpreting the drill, we started using the weapon to interpret larger stories.
“Let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.” - Frederick Douglass, 1863.
|Tearing the cartridge. Who purchased this cartridge? What|
were their goals in purchasing it? What does this bullet
represent for both the individual soldier and for the politics
of conflict? Photo: J. Cadoff
|Frank, Frederick, & Alice. |
The orphans of Sgt. Humiston,
154th NY, killed at Gettysburg.
The weapon in the interpreter's
hand killed their father. LOC Photo
The opinions expressed in this blog reflect my own personal opinions and observations, and not those of my employers. This was written on personal time after work.