Yesterday I took one final trip up Rt. 20 to Fredericksburg. Apart from a few select pieces I was able to sell the remainder of my Don Troiani collection to a Marine officer, who is going to auction them off to help raise money for the Wounded Warrior project. [More on this at a later date.] It’s one of my favorite drives and it gave me the opportunity to reflect on just how much I am going to miss this place.
I’ve lived in Charlottesville for 11 years and it has been a wonderful experience. Other than the town I grew up in on the Jersey shore I’ve never lived in one location for a longer period of time. My wife and I met and befriended some incredible people and we will miss them all. On top of that you just can’t beat the beauty of this state. It’s got it all.
When I arrived in 2000 I had never taught a course in American history and my list of publications was a goose egg. One of the things I will miss the most is the opportunity to connect with such a rich history. That crucial connection not only filled my time here with a great deal of excitement and meaning, but it also served as a catalyst for new and lasting friendships. If I’ve enjoyed any success as a historian over the past few years it is the result of the generosity of a number of people in the field. You know who you are and I will be forever grateful. I would like to believe that I helped to preserve and pass down this state’s rich history to the next generation and even contribute to how we understand and remember it.
By far the most difficult part of this transition has been leaving the St. Anne’s – Belfield School. It is going to be a strange experience come late August when I am sitting in the Massachusetts Historical Society doing research rather than preparing to go back into the classroom. I am going to miss my colleagues terribly. They are simply one of the most passionate and talented faculty that I’ve ever worked with. They put up with me for 10 years; they made me a better teacher and a better person. It was a rare morning that I did not want to get up and go to work. I don’t know too many people who are lucky enough to work a job that so closely reflects a personal interest or passion. Well, that was the case for me and every one of my fellow faculty members and it made for an incredibly rewarding experience. It is a school where I was allowed to create my own classes and even walk into the classrooms of my colleagues to check out something new. I trust that I’ve left my mark, but more importantly my colleagues as well as my students have left their mark on me and for that I am thankful.
So, what does the future hold? What I do know for now is that by Tuesday evening my wife and I will be in our new home. I don’t mind admitting that I am just a bit nervous. It would be much easier to find a way to stay with what is familiar and rewarding. That said, as difficult as it is to leave Virginia I couldn’t be more excited about moving to Boston. For a history buff it can’t get much better and I am looking forward to exploring this thing called the American Revolution. Over the next year I plan on completing a number of writing projects as well as continuing my work with k-12 history teachers. I am also excited about some work that I will be doing for the company that created the Valley Sim Project. Whether I end up back in the classroom has yet to be decided. I do know that I want to somehow stay within the field of history education, but given the public history scene in the Boston area that could lead to any number of things. We shall see.
I am confident that the move will add an important perspective and spark to Civil War Memory. I’ve never lived in New England and much of my commentary is centered on how the Civil War is remembered in the South. As always thanks to all of you for your continued support. I’ve said it before, but this blog is responsible for much of my success and that has everything to do with you. That’s about it for now.
See you on the Charles River on July 4.