Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm no expert...anymore.

When I was in second grade I was a Civil War expert. Ask anyone. Back then, in my rural Burt, Michigan, two room school, most of the kids were oblivious to the Civil War centennial, let alone American history. I, however had seen the John Wayne movie "The Horsesoldiers" and I could draw cool Civil War guys (still can).

By 4th grade I was still the Civil War "go to" guy, heck, I had the plastic soldiers, the Life magazine series, the autographed book from Bruce Catton, and the upcoming trip to Gettysburg.

By highschool things started to change. My hitherto unquestioned CW expertise ran afoul of freshman history class. I actually had to know things beyond the captions. In my teens I faced my hubris, I was no Civil War expert, I was just a kid geeked about the Civil War.

With the passing of my favorite expert, Bruce Catton, I saw that others quickly vied to take his place and today there are innumerable authors and scholars who will volunteer themselves as the heir apparent experts on the subject of the American Civil War. And bless 'em all.

Now, at 54 years of age, I'm delighted to find myself at Antietam National Battlefield leadng tours. I'm resigned, quite happily, to the fact that I'm no Civil War expert. Instead, I'm just a good storyteller. And as Bruce Catton taught us; our history is taught best through good stories.

Do come join me some time.

Ranger Mannie

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