All over the country there are individuals who are dedicated to keeping the memory and historical accounts of the Civil War alive and do so through re-enactments, readings from historical documents and even music.
On Saturday, all three of these things were on display at the as Activities Director Joan Ryan, along with the assistance of over a dozen volunteers, assembled a “Civil War Day” to educate and entertain the seniors who reside there.
The idea came about through Ryan’s relationship with Fr. Dave Moreno who participates in many Civil War re-enactments and says that bringing enriching programs that are fun and new to the seniors is very important to her.
“I’m always looking for new ideas and vehicles to bring educational, cultural and entertaining events and activities to our residents,” remarked Ryan who also shared that leading up to the event, the residents had been watching Civil War documentaries and have had other speakers come in and talk about the events of the war.
Fr. Moreno, who could be seen wearing glasses from the 1800’s said that today’s event was well received by the seniors, who not only had fun, but also had questions about various aspects of the war.
Volunteers and some residents dressed in Civil War costumes, wearing union hats and matron outfits. One resident, Tony Cacace, donned the important and historic role and wardrobe of President Abraham Lincoln.
Standing before the crowd and with his wife Mary Todd by his side, Cacace proudly read aloud the famous Gettysburg Address, just as the former President did on Nov. 19, 1863.
“I just hope they don’t throw tomatoes at me!” joked Cacace.
Many other residents participated in the event, sharing information about various ethnic groups that were involved in the war and the pivotal roles that groups such as the German, Irish, African American, Jewish, Chinese, Native American and Italian had in participating in and ending the 4-year long conflict.
Another highlight of the afternoon came from Linda Russell, a musician who specializes in American music history, from Colonial times right through the Civil War-era.
Playing songs that were heard by union and confederate armies around campfires and in the battlefields, Russell displayed her talents by playing the tunes of Yankee Doodle and Oh! Susanna, as well as many other familiar favorites using a variety of instruments such as the dulcimer, penny whistle, guitar and harmonica.
“It's great to give people context and educate the audience on the emotions involved and how the soldiers expressed their hardships through music,” explained Russell.
At the end of the day’s events, it was fittingly decided for all the seniors to sing God Bless America, in honor of not only the soldiers who lost their lives in the war, but also in advance of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, a stirring end to a day filled with educational history and proud patriotism.