Saturday, April 30, 2011

Staff Ride!

This week provided a vivid reminder of why the Park was created in the first place. Established by the War Department in 1890,  Antietam, as one of the original five National Military Parks, was mandated to provide instructional venues for the education of military officers and cadets. This role and tradition continue to this day as evidenced by the three military 'staff rides" we hosted over the course of 48 hours.

The first group of 240 were medical personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force, seen here, zooming toward the theater.  George Wunderlich of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine gave them a tour with a special emphasis on the role of the medical service at Antietam.

The second group that day was comprised of about seventy 48th Division reservists who toured the field for several hours with Range Mike.

For which they were very appreciative.

Mike was a Lt Colonel in the Army himself and has a great affinity for these groups.  Here, he receives a gift of appreciation from the leader of the group.

The third staff ride arrived yesterday and was made up of seventeen members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

It was quite a sight to see their vehicles convoying onto the grounds and parking just below Dunker Church.  Although "lean, mean, fightin' gyrines" they were very pleasant and I enjoyed a very relaxed and informative conversation with the warrant officer in charge of the group.

The vehicles themselves provided quite an attraction for visitor during their six hour stay.
these Marines really enjoyed a two-hour talk given by Antietam Park Historian, and their fellow-Marine, Ted Alexander.

Staff Rides are a great tradition which continues here at Antietam National Park, and provides us with the opportunity to give back, just a little, to those who give so much for all of us.

Ranger Mannie

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grand Rapids Sesquicentennial Event

For me, a return to Michigan, is a return to where my childhood interest in the Civil War took root.  And here I was, two days following the 150th anniversary of the opening guns, back in Michigan, a guest speaker for the Grand Rapids Historical Society.  The subject?  Antietam.

The view from our room took in the north end of town.  Grand Rapids is bisected by the Owastanong River (called by non-natives the "Grand").  

The river is a focal point of the city, and has been made that way in the last twenty years in a very conscious and laudable manner by the city planners.  The new convention center (right) and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (left) follow the modern trend of facing the river, a river which in previous generations was merely a dumping ground for the many factories and foundries of the "Furniture City".

On the morning of the evening of my talk I did a half hour television program at the local PBS affiliate; WGVU.  It was a very pleasant, very brief,  26-minute "History 101" class with the young and affable host, Patrick Center

Here I am next to that other Park Ranger from Grand Rapids Michigan, Jerry Ford.


On the evening of my talk I was informed that it was the largest audience ever (SRO no less), they even had to set up an overflow room with a simulcast.  Apparently I still owe a lot of people money in West Michigan.

My old friend from museum days and president of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, Gina Bivins opened the show, and I was introduced by my friend and the vice president of the Grand Rapids Civil War Round Table John Gelderloos.

The talk was very well received, and it was positively amazing to look out into that audience and see so many familiar and friendly faces, even my very first boss was in the crowd.

There were some kids in the audience, and considering that they are in the position that I was fifty years ago on the eve of the centennial, I gave them special attention

Whether folks had come out just to catch up with me or to learn about Antietam, either way, it was a wonderful event and I promised all in attendance that they'd appear on my blog.

It was an altogether delightful evening.  At supper afterwards at the good old Cottage Bar, even the mayor, George Heartwell, stopped by to say hello.  

I guess, sometimes, you can go home again.

Back in Boonsboro,

Ranger Mannie

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grand Rapids Sojourn

We left the rain behind around Pittsburgh and it was sunny and smooth sailing all the way to Michigan. Twelve hours exactly. I'm showing Susan around and she already witnessed me getting a hug from another woman (won't be the only incidence, I think )my old public access TV and museum pal Theresa Tome.

This is where I'll be speaking tomorrow evening.

This is where I used to work.

Our hotel is within walking distance from just about everything.

It's nice to be back for a visit.

Spreading the Civil War gospel to the midwest,

Ranger Mannie

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

See you in Grand Rapids!

Leaving the Valley next week to visit the old stomping grounds and give a show.

Link here