Given that the one-year anniversary of my first-person talks about aspects of the Civil War soldier’s daily life is just around the corner, I thought it an opportune time to reflect upon what the experience has meant to me thus far.
On average I’ve addressed audiences of between 20 – 25 people. Many of my presentations have been delivered to folks in retirement homes. It pleases me to say that virtually everyone to whom I have spoken takes seriously my desire to be accepted as an actual Civil War veteran!
Not surprisingly, employing many props in the course of my lectures really helps flesh out the history that I am attempting to communicate. The Adams Express box from home that I talk about in “Winter Camp and the Soldier’s Christmas” has been a big hit. Folks pay close attention to the variety of goodies that I pull from the excelsior in which they are nestled: the bottle of “blueberry cordial” made by Mother receives knowing chuckles.
Of course the learning hasn’t been a one-way street. I’ve gained a lot from listening to some of the elderly women and men that have listened to me speak. After a recent event a lady (in her 80s or 90s) told me about her brother, who was killed in World War II. He had only been in Italy a few weeks when he lost his life in combat. A faraway look came into her eyes as she recounted how a soldier in her brother’s unit had painted a portrait of him, something that became a family keepsake. For me hearing about this was a sobering – and priceless – experience.
I feel good about how “Near as I Remember” has been received, and look forward to making many more presentations in the New Year.