On May 28, 1913, the Michigan Historical Commission was created. The Michigan Historical Commission, which succeeded the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, was organized in Lansing. Its members, who were appointed by the Governor, were instructed under legislative mandate to produce "a magazine of Michigan history for Michigan people." Source: Michigan History magazine
Yours truly will soon mark eight years of service on the Commission. Among the activities these past eight has been the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Though the Sesqui is coming to an end with the end of the Civil War 150 years ago, much remains to be done. Commemorating the service and sacrifice of our forebears should not end.
A friend of my dear departed son wrote this in a Facebook post, hoping to remind us all of the sacrifice made by many on our behalf that is well worthy of our remembering:
""On this Memorial Day weekend, I would like to pause and think of all of my friends and colleagues both civilian and military, as well as their families who serve and served our country. Heroism has many faces. And some people paid the ultimate price after their service due to conditions they experienced while serving. Let's not forget about them on this Memorial Day especially when we look around in our own community and see those who struggle. Many of our homeless are veterans. We often forget about the fact that we are in the longest war we have ever been in in Afghanistan and that our diplomats work in some of the scariest country on Earth. Men and women put their lives on the line for us every single day in military bases, as well as embassies and consulates. Thank you for all you do, I'm so humbled to know so many amazing public servants. You are what makes our country great."
Ebru was there; she knows.
Having spent time these past nine months immersed regularly in the bloodbath known as Antietam for a forthcoming book, I almost feel I know -- though I truly cannot. I can only imagine. Combat is horrifying. Civil War combat certainly was.
Thank you to all who have and will place their lives at risk so that I may be free.
It is not over. Not yet. There is still much to do to fulfill the purposes in Michigan of commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial. There is the idea of a Michigan monument at Antietam. There is the ongoing work to preserve and promote the Grant Home in Detroit. There is ...
And there is now the beginning of a plan for how to report to the people of Michigan, and to posterity, on the work that has been undertaken over the past years relating to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve that came along in the lives of those who have seen the American Civil War as such an important, and ever so, epoch in our Nation's history. Brian James Egen, Chairman of the Michigan Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, has sent out an invitation along these lines:
Let us submit a report of all the CWS activities that took place over the 150th. We have website info that is awesome and perfect for the record and would be instrumental in documenting what Michigan did. As much as possible I would like to see every group, unit, museum, city, club, roundtable, etc. submit a list of what activities they did/participated in over the sesquicentennial. I don’t think we would need a huge amount of detail as we can always link back to websites, etc. I have proposed the idea to the Michigan Historical Commission and they are indeed supportive of the idea. To a person, they recognize all that has been done by you/your groups and others. This would of course be voluntary but most groups have a list or an idea of what they did. I would take on the responsibility of merging them together into a report.
My thought is that we use the rest of this year and the first part of 2016 to collect information and roll this up into the report to be submitted (to the State Archives, State of Michigan, Governor’s Office, etc.) by next summer to coincide with the anniversary of the battle flags being turned into the State under Governor Crapo. Where I do think your assistance will be invaluable, is to spread the word of this effort.
For anyone reading this blog, feel free to spread the word, to respond to Brian, and to be part of recording history. His email is BrianE@thehenryford.org
Sometimes an official item of business understates its importance. Take the case of this one, which appeared in the Michigan Senate Journal for Thursday, April 30, 2015, p. 563:
"April 28, 2015
I respectfully submit to the Senate the following appointment to office:
Michigan Historical Commission
Brian James Egen of 720 O’Brien Street, Monroe, Michigan 48161, county of Monroe, representing the general public, succeeding himself, is reappointed for a term expiring May 21, 2019."
Mr. Egen has been an excellent commissioner for the past four years, and Michigan will continue to benefit from his reappointment and four more years of his involvement on the Michigan Historical Commission. He is conscientious, hard-working, and an excellent historian full of expertise and passion for the subject.
For several years now, he has served as Chairman of the Commission's Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, helping the Commission fulfill its duties to help Michigan commemorate the Sesqui. It would take too much space to recount all of the accomplishments of the Committee -- suffice to say that Brian has as one of the remaining goals to publish an account of the activities in Michigan during the CWS, and probably sometime next year.
Congratulations to Governor Snyder for the decision to make the reappointment, to the Commission for continuing to have such a dedicated member, to the people of Michigan who will continue to benefit from his faithful service, and to Brian James Egen. Well done!