How pleased I was when one of my favorite CW blogs had an item on Michigan recently. Finally, my own State, which I submit made as much or more of a sacrifice than any other in the North, would receive intelligent discourse since this most excellent blog (CW Bookshelf) is revolutionary in taking on sacred cows, myths, and poor history.
Imagine, then, my disappointment in reading "Custer Week in Michigan", a 9/18 entry. Our erudite blogger reported that three options present themselves for this Monroe MI event, and Michiganders chose the juvenile one: "Looks like a fine festival for 10-year-olds", he jabs. Ouch. This assessment is based on a news article highlighting reenactments, including one of the Autie/Libby wedding. Yet...
Let's assume such play-acting is the entire focus of the week. What's so wrong with CW-related activities that appeal to the young, a group David McCullough said we're failing miserably by not interesting them in history? Reenactments compete better with YouTube than a dusty lecture, I'm sure.
And should we throw the period-dressed guides at Williamsburg into the same category? I was there in the Spring, and I listened to a black woman talk about life in the 18th century, saw someone lecturing on fealty to England. I have to admit, these presentations educated me, and I'm way past 10.
What do I make of watching "Gettysburg" on my DVD. I know Jeff Daniels (great Michigan actor) is not Joshua Chamberlain, but isn't it OK to suspend disbelief to imagine I'm watching the events of July 1863, seeing in drama something of the reality of war?
What do we make of excitement felt by a middle-age park ranger (another favorite blogger) upon seeing a cannon arriving at the Antietam battlefield for the recent 'anniversary' of the battle. I read a bunch of other blogs last evening talking about how much enjoyment their authors got out of the event. Is that a 10-year old's emotional reaction?
Quick research would have revealed that Custer Week includes roundtable presentations, panel discussions, lectures by NPS Gettysburg ranger Troy Harmon and William Gower (on "Custer and His Wolverines at East Cavalry Field on Day 3"), and so forth, not just reenactments, not that I diminish their value even though they aren't always my cup of tea.
You see, like a kid, I'm still curious.