Saturday, November 22, 2014

History Matters is back!

Yes, I realize that over five months have passed since my last post on History Matters--the longest hiatus in blog writing I have ever had since I started this site in January 2009.  Trust me, all of this has been for good reason.  A mere day after my previous writing here I was offered a full-time History Instructor position at Penn State Altoona.  I am ecstatic to be embarking upon this new adventure of my life within the realm of something that means so much to me.  Simultaneously, the summer of 2014 was essentially the first one in many years that afforded me some leisure time to travel and work on manuscripts.  This time was put to good use.  (Did you notice that the blog has a new look?)  The same week I accepted my new position, a colleague and I headed to Indiana to celebrate a friend's wedding.  Along the way we relished numerous historic sites--including the First Infantry Division Museum (above) near Chicago, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day no less.  Below is a brief rundown of some of my adventures in the last months.

Although this was the first summer since 2009 that I was not a full time employee of Gettysburg National Military Park, I was still able to return here and there throughout the year wearing the green and gray--including the 151st anniversary of the battle.  On the evening of July 3, I delivered a presentation on Pickett's Charge in historical memory--chronicling the powers that have shaped our perceptions of that defining moment of the Civil War.

The past several months have also afforded innumerable opportunities to participate in the ongoing Civil War sesquicentennial commemorations throughout the country.  Along with my brother and friends, we traversed the battlefields of New Market, Monocacy (above), and Cedar Creek on their respective 150th anniversaries.  We look forward to attending more in the coming months!

A great joy of settling down is that I once more have a greater opportunity to experience and contribute to historical sites in my own area of Central Pennsylvania.  I find myself able to enjoy programs and special events at places such as Fort Roberdeau (above), Baker Mansion, the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, and the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.  In my many travels, I constantly see that citizens tend to take their local historical resources for granted.  I shall endeavor not to find myself within that scenario.

In September, I also had the chance to return to my old stomping grounds at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to assist in the annual Schoolhouse Ridge program that educates and entertains some 700 schoolchildren from that region of West Virginia.  Discussing various aspects of 19th century life, we had a fun and meaningful experience on the battlefield heights above the historic town.  Here, I stand alongside fellow rangers Stan McGee and Casimer Rosiecki.

Perhaps most interestingly, some additional free time allowed me to develop and grow my own WWII reenacting organization.  Entitled the Furious Fourth, the squad seeks to interpret the experiences of the average GI serving in the 4th Infantry Division from 1942-1945.  This hobby has provided all manners of unique and insightful adventures--including me rotating the propellers of a vintage B-17 Bomber prior to its takeoff.

Most importantly, my undertakings as an educator in the classroom have enabled me to learn more about American History and academia.  Hopefully, a degree of the enthusiasm I have for the study of the past will be imparted to my students.  In this respect, I seek to nurture such appreciations both in and out of the classroom.  In October, I took a handful of students to Gettysburg to participate in the park's landscape restoration initiative.  It was the first visit to the park for many of the students but hopefully it will not be their last.

A final point of noteworthiness I would like to address deals with my next book: Images of Modern America: Altoona.  Taking a critical, visual look at my hometown since 1945, the book will chronicle the downfall and continuing resurgence of this classic Pennsylvania city.  Scheduled for release this coming spring, I will be providing more commentary on this project and others in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, thanks for your continued support--especially considering that this blog has surpassed 100,000 hits!

1 comment:

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