One advantage (among many) of working long hours at a charter school is the much needed week-long Thanksgiving break. It began Friday afternoon at 2 for most, but for me it began slightly earlier…
You see on Wednesday I discovered that Friday was the 147th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, an event even more exciting for a history teacher who has spent the last month thinking, reading, planning and teaching about the Civil War. This was clearly a ‘not-to-be-missed’ event, especially considering my kids are due for another episode of The Magical History Tour (a travel show I’ve created where we visit cool historical places).
Perfect timing considering I was headed up that direction anyways to spend the holiday in Harrisburg. I arrived just in time to see Jim Getty (a famous Lincoln reenactory) speak at the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church…
LINCOLN’S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: 6
Of course it was cool to see a famous Lincoln reenactor, get my picture with him and hear him deliver the Gettysburg Address, in the very city where it was originally delivered. That being said, I definitely went in with high expectations. First, I thought the speech would be given at the National Cemetery where Lincoln originally delivered it. -2 for the fact that it wasn’t.
Secondly, I expected the reenactor to be taller. If you’re going to play Lincoln, you should at least come close to his height. -.5
Thirdly, where was the top hat? Maybe that’s super cliche, but it was s bit disappointing to meet Lincoln with no top hate. Especially if you’ve got a couple inches to make up for anyways. -.5
Lastly, his voice and delivery of the speech were underwhelming. To be fair I have no idea what Lincoln actually sounded like delivering the speech, but for all these years that I’ve learned it, heard about it and now taught it, this was NOT what I heard in my head.
REMEMBRANCE DAY PARADE: 9
The purpose of the parade was to remember and celebrate everyone who played a role in the Civil War. It combined soldiers (both Union and Confederate), women, musicians, Abe Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and even Frederick Douglass. It was awesome to see so many reenactors in one place, and even those filling the streets to watch were dressed in costume which made it even more authentic. It’s rare to find yourself somewhere out of place wearing jeans as opposed to Civil War dress… rare, but wonderfully fun 🙂
CIVIL WAR REENACTING: 9
Lucky for me, a colleague of mine used to do Civil War reenacting, and just happened to have a spare dress on hand 🙂 I borrowed it thinking I could use it for some of the day’s filming, but ended up wearing it for the entire parade. While at first I was a bit hesitant, by the end of the day I was completely embracing my new Civil War identity. So much so, we picked up a pattern and my mom’s making me my own for Christmas. I’ve begun researching events coming up, and now I’m on the hunt for folks interested in joining… could it be you???
THE BATTLEFIELDS: 8
I still remember taking field trips in elementary school to Gettysuburg and touring the battle fields. I remember nothing but large open fields and grass. I found it incredibly boring and had more fun in the gift shops and taking pictures with my friends than I ever did figuring out who the hell Robert E. Lee was.
Now that I’m a history teacher I find it SO much more fascinating. And somehow think that if I bring back pictures and videos of big open fields my students will find it more interesting than I ever did…
Either way, I enjoyed at least stopping by a couple battlefields while there to catch some video and pictures. Just so happened we got to them right around sunset, which was INCREDIBLE. I swear there are statues for every soldier who stepped foot on the ground, but it’s cool how they’ve kept certain areas protected and undeveloped so it looks relatively similar to what it did 150 years ago (minus all the power lines and roads).
To top it all off, that night was the Illumination Ceremony at the National Cemetery, where each grave had a flag and a lit candle to remember those buried there. While the pictures didn’t come out too well, it was definitely a unique time to be there. Every 30 minutes they read off names of those who died there, and they had a band playing Taps continuously. Wish it was possible to video in the darkness, but sadly this is all I left with…
Overall a pretty great start to Thanksgiving Break… until the next reenactment, just living for the tens 🙂
The final result? Check it out here…