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Civil War re-enactments are subject of Kiwanis meeting

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Details about participating in Civil War re-enactments were shared at last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.

Cathy Lewis, who also served as program chairperson, said she attended the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, near Springfield, in August as a volunteer. She became familiar with Civil War re-enactments through her brother-in-law, Michael Williams, who works at EFCO, a Pella Company, in Monett.

Williams has been a re-enactor for 16 years. As a volunteer in the First Missouri Battalion, part of the Missouri State Guard at the time the Civil War broke out, Williams has worked his way up in the ranks to the post of lieutenant colonel.

Lewis said participating in Civil War re-enactments is both rigorous and expensive. Most events are held in the summer heat, a test for anyone wearing a wool uniform.

Volunteers are asked to conform to exacting historical standards in their activities and their apparel. Equipment and uniforms can be costly. In addition, Williams rides a horse, another expense and one requiring more physical conditioning to handle well.

At a recent re-enactment in the St. Louis area, the troops camped outdoors. Lewis said the weather was so bad the park ranger asked the re-enactors to take cover in something more suitable than their tents.

Battle re-enactments are often limited by the numbers who come to participate. Lewis said participants are required to carry two uniforms, one for each side. If not enough people come, re-enactors may be asked to switch their allegiance for the event to balance the forces.

Lewis shared the list of 10 events where members of the First Missouri Battalion will participate in 2012. They will travel to big events like the 150th anniversaries of the battle at Shiloh, Tenn., in March and Vicksburg, Miss., in October.

Events in Missouri will include: Jefferson City, May 4-6; Kingston, June 1-3; Lone Jack, Aug. 18-19; and Camdenton, Sept. 15-16.

Lewis asked club members to think about what historical events they would attend if possible. Answers ranged from the Last Supper to specific Civil War battles and more recent events like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. History can be relived through re-enactment, Lewis suggested.

A retired school teacher in Florida, Lewis became interested in the hardships the Seminole Indians experienced. Preserving history provides a way to protect values and the rights of people, she said.

Kiwanis President Eric Kean presided at the meeting.

In club news, Kean announced the quarterly night meeting will be held Jan. 12, 2012, at Big Baldy's Barbecue. The guest speaker will be Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles, who will speak about experiencing and responding to the May 22 tornado in Joplin.

Twenty-eight children attended the club's annual party for under-privileged children. Heno Head, Jr. gave a science presentation and included a Biblical story. All the children received a personal gift from a club member and a soccer ball or basketball.

The Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.

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