Time to take the family to these informative and compelling depictions of our nation’s history
By Katie Jackson:
Do you really know what happened at Gettysburg or the Battle of New Orleans? The best way to find out is to relive it.
Today, there are dozens of dedicated historical societies acting around the U.S. Most specialize in recreating bloody battles. But often, they also depict the daily life of civilians, women and children.
Whatever the era, they’re the most entertaining and hands-on way to study American history.
While there are enough re-enactments to fill a history buff’s calendar, here are six re-enactments every American should see.
1.) “Unto These Hills.” A tragic tale of broken agreements that shaped a Native American nation, “Unto These Hills” is pure drama, accentuated by pyrotechnic special effects and its natural backdrop — a sky full of stars. Written by the late American playwright Kermit Hunter, “Unto These Hills” depicts the sufferings of the Cherokee tribe over the course of 300 years. With 288,000 current members, the Cherokee is the second biggest tribe in the U.S. This live, outdoor production takes place every Monday through Saturday evening in the summer.
The performance is held at the 2,100-seat Mountainside Theatre located at, where else, 688 Drama Road in Cherokee, North Carolina.
2.) The British Invasion. For a crash course in American Revolutionary War history, head to Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. The former home of Thomas Jefferson, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, usually hosts a re-enactment of the 1781 British invasion every June. The weekend’s stars are the Virginia militia, British Dragoons, and Redcoats — all armed and dressed accordingly.
Still, they’re not too busy fighting to take time to meet with visitors, offer tours of their encampments and demonstrate musket and cannon firings. There’s even a muster drill program for kids.
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American Heroes: George Washington – An Example of Leadership
By Matthew Wadler; OpsLens:
I am a huge fan of history. Not the boring history that I had to study throughout school, but the history that teaches us lessons about the future. I believe in the phrase that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. In fact, when I taught JROTC, I often tried to work a historical reference into the lesson plan. I have never understood the things that most history teachers make you memorize. Who cares about the who and when? To me, it is all about understanding the what, how, and why, and the way that their lessons interweave into our modern society.
For example, I remember studying the cotton gin in high school. It was patented in 1794 by Eli Whitney and removed seeds from picked cotton fibers. What lesson is gleaned from this, and who cares about the year and Eli Whitney himself? The lesson is that the cotton gin was enormously successful, but when Whitney attempted to market it the plantation owners were able to circumvent the patent laws and produce their own cotton gins. The net result was that Whitney did not make any significant money.
So why should we care? This event happened over 220 years ago; what possible relevance can it have? How about this– always make sure that you protect your investment and be wary of giving away the secrets before securing a contract. Additionally, the discovery of this process increased the proliferation of slaves throughout the south. It is important to recognize the impact of unintended consequences.
I wanted to write some articles on American military heroes and what we should learn from their examples. Granted, life lessons are often only visible in hindsight, such as the cotton gin leading to an increased reliance on slavery. Whitney could not have known that would be a consequence, but by studying parts of the past, maybe we can develop a guide to our future.
In this regard, there is no one else that I could possibly begin with other than George Washington. As a man, general, and American, George Washington is truly remarkable. He was born on 22 February 1732 in Virginia to a wealthy farming family. He was given a commission into the Virginia Militia as a Major and was actually looking towards a commission in the British Army, which is rather ironic given his future endeavors.
It was the French-Indian War that created the rest of this story, for without this war we may still have been a colony. In this conflict, the British and French were fighting over North America territories. Washington was sent to deliver a message to the French in the Ohio Valley, essentially telling them to leave. After meeting with the French commander, Washington was given a written response to return to the Virginia Governor. Upon his return, he presented both the response and a written account of his exploits traversing the mountainous terrain in the middle of the winter. This account was subsequently published both in the colonies and in Britain, making Washington a virtual hero on both continents at the young age of 21.
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