This last year of the first decade of this new millenium is in the books at midnite. Can we look back at any progress on Michigan efforts in Civil War and other historical commemoration?
Yes. Let's look first at "other". Perhaps the most significant and gratifying to Michiganders should be the renewal of Capitol Park in Detroit. It's the site of our only territorial capitol, which became the first State capitol in 1837 upon admission to the Union. There is so much history there, it ain't funny. The park has been redone by the City of Detroit, and the heritage aspects are beginning to be resuscitated, beginning with proper commemoration of Michigan's first ('boy') Governor, Stevens T. Mason. Check it out: Boy Guv. It was exciting to see t-shirts and posters in connection with the event, the latter of which proclaimed "Michigan begins again in Capitol Park, Detroit." It was gratifying to reach the $100,000 donation mark. Halfway there.
During '10, the Michigan Historical Commission and its partners, the Historical Center and History Foundation, continued to push ahead with the workplan they devised in '07-'08. The Commission continued to advocate on behalf of Michigan history interests (often times to deaf ears, unfortunately), the Center continued to offer programs especially to youth despite budget cuts and personnel losses, and the Foundation continued to raise money for the "MHCs" despite a terrible economic climate.
The Historical Society of Michigan continued to move ahead as well. It continues to publish Michigan History magazine, coordinate the centennial farms program, offer seminars and conferences, and do other good things.
One minor event: there was a certain reappointment to the Commission way back in March, giving the re-apppointee four more years to try to help move the history needle forward.
Then, of so much importance, there's the continuing work on the Sesquicentennial. The Fall was especially busy, what with our second conference at Grand Valley State in October, the convening of the full complement of "Partners" in November, unveiling of the website [http://micivilwar.org/] and logo, and ongoing efforts to raise funds. Again, despite a very difficult year -- and almost paralysis in public quarters due to uncertainty about the future, if any -- the Committee continued to work and build the foundation for an authentic, grassroots based commemoration.
There is so much work to do. There are places to save, events to commemorate, people to be enlightened. It will be quite interesting a year from now to see how '11 has turned out. Right now, there are high hopes in these quarters.
In a real sense we are beginning again as a State. We're picking ourselves up from a low point and striding forward. It's simply what we must do.