The Way Home

H/T to Peter Winfrey

I highly recommend taking the time to watch this video in its entirety.  It follows a group of black seniors to Yellowstone National Park.  Along the way there is a discussion of why black Americans have apparently lost touch with the history of our national parks, nature and the joys of reconnecting.  It’s an incredibly touching film and in my mind Ranger Shelton Johnson is a superstar.

Gettysburg NMP Invites Trace Adkins to Sing National Anthem

Yes, I find the decision by the Gettysburg National Military Park to invite country music singer Trace Adkins to sing our National Anthem as part of the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle to be just a little troubling.  My concern has nothing to do with the recent story about his Confederate earring and I understand that Adkins is a strong advocate for battlefield preservation.

My concern goes back to some remarks that Adkins made as part of a sesquicentennial event in Tennessee in 2010.  Here, once again, is the video from that event.

Is Adkins really the best the GNMP could do to find someone to help to bring meaning to the “cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion”?

David Larsen on Interpretation and Public History

Last night the Civil War Institute posted a video of National Park Service historian David Larsen discussing issues related to interpretation at historic sites.  Larsen worked as a training manager for interpretation at Mather Training Center.  Unfortunately, he recently passed away.  I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of him before last night.  This interview was conducted in 2000.  I haven’t watched all the videos, but I plan on doing so over the next few days.  Below is Part 1.  Listen to Larsen’s definition of interpretation, which you can find between minute 3:00 and 4:30.

[Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5]

Here is Larsen’s “Gun Talk”.

Thanks National Park Service

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The above image was posted on the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields National Military Park’s Facebook Page.  The accompanying caption reads:

We ended at a point where no Union soldier 150 yrs ago today ever reached. What a poignant end to a marvelous, powerful day. Thanks to all who came out today and followed along on Facebook. We must not forget the sacrifices that took place on these days.

I just wanted to take a second to thank all the good folks in the NPS at Fredericksburg, who have just finished up what must have been an exhausting and exhilarating week marking the momentous events that took place there 150 years ago this week.  You won’t find a more talented and passionate group of public historians.  Now get some rest because you guys are on again in five months.

John Hennessy Leads the Way

I so wish I could be in Fredericksburg, Virginia this weekend to take part in events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the famous battle and the war in 1862.  I’ve been following events through my preferred social networks, but this video captures what remembering the war should be all about.  John Hennessy is the chief historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  No one that I know personally thinks more deeply about what it means to do public history and how best to steer the general public through the many landmines of Civil War memory.  Even through video John’s passion for history and commitment to engaging the entire community is palpable.

No doubt, we all glean something different from such a message, but I am reminded that how we remember as a community often reflects boundaries that we would do well to overcome.