Technically, this still counts since it falls before Epiphany, right? (In the Catholic tradition, Epiphany – the feast of the Three Kings on January 6 – is the official end of the twelve days of Christmas.)
Anyway, technicalities aside, I recently attended a Living History event at Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey called Soldiers’ Christmas. Maybe it was Soldier’s Christmas. Soldiers Christmas? Whatever.
It was my first time attending this event, although I’ve heard about it for a number of years. There were groups from a number of different eras, although the majority were from World War 2. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces from the Living History scene, and I even learned a thing or two along the way!
Christmas the American GI way
Now that I’m living in the greater Philadelphia region, and fueled almost entirely by the first 70-ish episodes of The American Military History Podcast, I’m much more aware of the Revolutionary Era sites within easy driving distance of me. Which is how last weekend happened: on my way back from a Notre Dame Alumni event, I decided to swing by the Paoli battlefield site, as I had heard there were events happening there, and I didn’t want to miss out.
For those of you who don’t know, the Battle of Paoli happened in 1777 in Paoli, PA, which today is about 45 minutes from Philadelphia Proper. Also known as the Paoli Massacre, this event immediately followed the Battle of Brandywine, the largest land battle of the Revolution and a British victory.
So maybe it will be useful to back up a little bit further:
Day 2 began with a leisurely morning, breakfast on the go, and a return to the Court House site. This day was filled mostly with pictures and wandering around the town. Fortunately there were many interpretive signs scattered through the town to read and many people to watch/overhear/interrogate. In the back of the town was a sign that said “Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Site” with an arrow, so naturally we had to go check it out, as our mutual affection and appreciation for Chamberlain brought us together in the first place. (It was a path that eventually led to the highway so it wasn’t very exciting.)
It was either the Fort Lyons Preservation Society guy that my Civil War discussion group met on a tour of the DC forts, or it was all the history things I follow on facebook posting things. Or quite possibly, Big Brother has caught on to my search history and offered notice of this event as a paid ad on Google. Whatever it was, I was given ample notice of a reenactment at Mount Vernon.
Colonial history was my first love, long before I ever met Col. Chamberlain of the 20th Maine. When I was young, this series of books called American Girl were popular (years before the company sold out to Mattel, btw), and my favorite was Felicity, and she lived in Colonial Williamsburg. She had a horse and the dress and red hair – everything I wanted when I was that age. I read the Felicity books over and over again, but it never really went anywhere serious. (I did get to see Monticello, which was far cooler than I expected-can I say I love Jefferson?)
The pantheon of American gods
Is there anything more patriotic than attending the National Memorial Day Concert, hosted by
Lieutenant Dan Gary Sinise, live on the Capitol Building’s Lawn while knitting socks for one’s Civil War soldier, surrounded by sirens because there was a “suspicious package” a block away? I didn’t think so.
The annual Battle of the Bulge reenactment takes place every year at Fort Indiantown Gap, in Nowheresville, PA. Because that is quite a mouthful, everyone has shortened it to FIG. Which makes me giggle because of this:
which led to this:
I’m easily amused.