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Educational days bring 1860’s history to life

Zhu Yunxi | The Feather Online

Actors stay in tents as they participate in the Civil War re-enactment at Kearney Park, Oct. 21.

The Civil War re-enactment at Kearney Park is the biggest recreation west of the Mississippi. The event draws many people in who wish to learn about this turbulent era of American history.

While many people know about the main part of the event, few know about the Time Traveler’s days that is open to schools prior to the main event: Civil War Revisited later in October.

The Time Traveler’s day opened Oct. 9 and 10 to schools in the San Joaquin Valley. Time Traveler’s is a way for students to meet face-to-face with the re-enactors and learn about what life was like in the 1860s. This event differs from the main event in that it has more of a classroom-type structure.

Director of the event, Tina Guidry shared her reasons for running Time Traveler’s Days.

“I run the event because I find pure joy in the process,” Guidry said. “I love communicating with teachers, I love setting up school day stations, and I really like to find and plan new and interesting stations for the event. This year we had just under 4,000 students register for the Time Travelers event.”

For many of the re-enactors, Time Traveler’s day is an opportunity to re-enact history and portray life during the era. Alex Madias, a Union sharpshooter, discussed his favorite part of Time Traveler’s days.  

“Part of the job of being a re-enactor or any person is interested in history is making sure that the history lives on,” Madias said. “One of the best ways to do it is to get dressed up to bring the stuff as something that the kids can see. Honestly, the school days are my favorite part. If it wasn’t for the school days with the public coming into our camps to learn about the Civil War, I probably wouldn’t be doing this.”


A Confederate soldier, Scott Cox, believes that the Civil War re-enactment during Time Traveler’s days  is the best way for children to learn about the history of the event.

“I think it’s important for kids to know their past, they need to know what happened in our nation and what shaped the nation we have today,” Cox said. “It’s very important for them to know the issues of the Civil War and how personal it was for everyone. I think Civil War re-enacting is the best way for kids to engage with history. A lot of times history is just a textbook for kids that they read at school but when they come out here it’s very real.”

Garrett Hasslinger, a Union cavalryman, spoke about how he believes the re-enactment is a good way to show what happened in the Civil War in a way that is interactive.

Matthew Sue | The Feather Online

Actors display how re-enacting is a way to give people a look into the past, chatting with the actors, Oct. 21.

“The history books only teach you so much because you’re actually reading a piece of paper, plus a lot of times they’re not exactly the most accurate things on the planet,” Hasslinger said. “So doing this takes the little black and white words on the paper and actually turns them into Living Color. They can see touch and actually just witness the things the soldiers would do.”

These are some of the reasons why this event is so significant to the re-enactors. This is why Tanell Herbert, a teacher from Inspire Charter schools, supports this event.

“I think what impacts the students most is when they can get into the time period with the actors and actresses,” Herbert said. “Having students see the children and family camps in the Union and Confederate sides of this war is inspiring and very realistic. This IS (his emphasis) history and it’s such an amazing event; everyone has to learn some things after attending it or they have wasted their own time.”

These reasons are why this event benefits both schools and children attending the event. If readers would like to learn more about the Civil War Revisited, visit their site at Valley History.com. 

For more information about the Civil War re-enactment, read Local re-enactment provides insight into historical conflict. For more articles, read Sophomores reflect on Museum of Tolerance trip.

This writer can be reached via twitter @MatthewSue1 and via email: Matthew Sue.

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