Curtin Village, 251 Curtin Village Road Howard , Pennsylvania 16841
If you ask me, Civil War reenactments are becoming more important as time goes on.
Why? That war is long over, you say. Teenagers faint out of boredom at the mere mention of the words 'Civil War history'.
Well, okay, that might be true. But still. This stuff matters. I mean, for starters, the 1860's aren't getting any younger, you know? They are only fading back in time, like you and me, with each and every passing day. Think about it: history is only fresh for a moment or so. Then the smoke clears, the bodies get buried, the people that saw things go down with their very own eyes, they scatter like leaves in the wind. They pass on themselves.Then soon enough there's nothing but words and relics.
And people dressed up like long ago soldiers on a very modern Saturday morning.
That's why events like Howard's Curtin Village Civil War Days happening on Saturday, June 16th, are wildly important. We HAVE to try and remember… try to comprehend certain aspects in the history of humanity. Not just in American history, but the history of all of us. Everyone who has ever lived. Humanity. I'm talking all the people. Us. Them. You and me. The American Civil War has been through the historical ringer in a lot of ways. It's been grossly misinterpreted and tragically commercialized as much as anything that has happened anywhere in the world over the last 500 years or so.
That said, perhaps nothing causes us to reflect upon the true reasons the war happened- or meditate on what it all meant in the end- than to literally stand in the thick smoke of a very real cannon blast, the cries and din of battle emerging from the haze all around us. Civil War encampment camp and battle reenactments are the perfect place to scratch our heads in wonder. Who WERE the men and women (and kids) who lived back then? What did they stand for? What were they afraid of and what were they hoping for?
The questions are endless; the answers- more often than not- require some serious soul-searching.
I love that about the reenactments I've seen in my time. Sure, I leave there in a 21st century Honda, the taste of a Diet Coke lingering on my tongue, and I'm the furthest thing from a Civil War soldier there is in the county probably. Yet, something happens in my mind, and even hours later I'm still feeling strangely compelled to ponder the lives of a whole lot of Americans who've all been dead for one heckuva long time.
Curtin Village is a grand spectacle of what a successful iron-forging Pennsylvania family once acquired. The Curtin family is renown; Bellefonte lays proper claim to Governor Andrew Curtin; he sprang from his own family's ranks to govern our commonwealth throughout the Cvil War. He was a friend and confidant of Lincoln's; he was anti-slavery and pro-union. And even though there will be a re-enactor playing the Governor as he reviews the troops on Saturday morning at Civil War Days, he's certainly not the only Pennsylvanian legend you'll end up face to face with if you go.
Each and every soldier you cross paths with as you walk along will be representing a Pennsylvanian who came before us. Our state sent a lot of men (and maybe even a few women) into that war. Many were from Centre County… from Milesburg and Millheim, from Hublersburg and Potters Mills. So many never marched back home either. When we look into the eyes of a re-enactor, we're kind of looking into the eyes of a ghost then. Into the eyes of something long ago but something very here and now as well.
"Reenactors have both a huge responsibility and the honor of representing the Veterans of the Blue and the Gray before the public," says local, Gary Hoover, who is both the coordinator of Civil War Days and a re-enactor himself. "We speak for those that can no longer speak for themselves and by doing so, keep alive their memory and help ensure that future generations learn from their terrible ordeal and sacrifice."
Look, there will be tons of fun activities for both kids and adults at Curtin Village. You'll be able to eat good food, smile, watch your own children hold their ears and smile when the artillery thunders across the land. But at the root of it all, this isn't just another early summer country fair. This is something much more than that. Civil War Days affords us the increasingly rare opportunity to see what we are all capable of when we ignore true history in favor of blind faith in things that were never meant to be.
"The most important lesson," Gary Hoover reflects, "being to NEVER fight a war between Americans ever again."
Saturday, June 16th - 9:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday, June 17th - 9:00am - 4:00pm
Curtin Village at Eagle Ironworks
251 Curtin Village Road
Howard, Pennsylvania 16841
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