Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Birthday Tradition

May is my birthday month.

My childhood birthdays were characterized by lilacs, Memorial Day, the end of school, and indulgent (though nearly poor) parents.

My tenth birthday in 1962 came at the height of the Civil War Centennial. That year brought a trip to Gettysburg (No small undertaking from Michigan in a Corvair; my dad being a life-long GM employee) and a big Louis Marx "Blue and Gray" playset.

Over the last ten years or so I've tried to continue this tradition, a trip to Civil War country and indulging myself with a few dozen plastic CW soldiers to add to the heap. Some things don't change even though here in Maryland the lilacs will be finished long before my birthday.

Yesterday, May Day, my wife and I, along with two very good friends, piled into the Toyota (sorry pop) and turned north to G'burg for a visit and the purchase of some more plastic Civil War soldiers.

With all of its changes, Gettysburg retains all of it's magic for this nearly fifty-five year old kid... and so do the army guys.

I think for most of us it began when we were children, that's an important thing to not lose sight of.

Lighting the spark of a kid's imagination is, I think, one of the best and most noble things that an adult can do. One just never knows what might stick in a child's head to take root and blossom even twenty or thirty years later.

All of us CW authors, bloggers, experts, "experts", buffs, and hangers-on can keep the imagination sparks flying, and its so easy. Seems every year bunches of coffee table pictorials about the war spring up like mushrooms on the clearance tables.
Some of these books are good and some are totally lackluster, but they usually have lots and lots of cool pictures. These books may come our way as gifts, swag, or promotions. Although these tomes may lack a certain depth for us smarty-pants types, they may be just perfect thing... for a kid.

Pass those books on to the child that you know who has expressed a budding interest in the American Civil War, you may be planting the seed that brings us the next great Civil War historian, or buff,enthusiast, or's all good. Pass on the spark.

The greatest birthday gift that my parents gave me was the gift of lifelong learning about the American Civil War. I wish they could see me now.

Gotta go blow out some more candles...

just north of Sharpsburg.

Ranger Mannie


Anonymous said...

Ranger Mannie, this only the second time I have accessed your page. I enjoy reading of your escapades. I have a couple of years on you and also was bitten by the bug, but back when I was in elementary school. I did not go to G'burg like so many others at that time. In fact, I did not get there until I started CW re-enacting(after a marriage gone south)and I had time and resources to pursue the "hobby." I am now one of the WNY Chapter of the USSC(after a time of wearing "the blue suit) and we will be on the field in June and again in September. Sharpsburg is our favorite place to visit and the park is the best battlefield to be any time of the year. J. Tuk

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday friend. I know exactly what your talking about. Maybe next time I come up to visit I'll bring some of my troops and we can play in the sandbox together.