Monday, July 7, 2008

Hunterstown...How not to dedicate a monument!













I had the pleasure last Weds. of going with my good friend Karl to Hunterstown for the dedication of the new monument there. For those not familiar, Hunterstown is about 4 miles north of Gettysburg, and was the scene of a major cavalry fight on July 2, 1863. It is a significant fight for at least two reasons. It kept JEB Stuart's cavalry away from Gettysburg yet once again. Stuart didn't arrive on the field until later that evening, and was no help in supporting any of the July 2nd attacks.

Also, Hunterstown was a significant fight in that was the first action involving newly-promoted George A. Custer as a brigadier general. Custer had received this promotion, as did Wesley Merrit and Elon Farnsworth, a few days prior. During the fighting of Hunterstown, Custer's horse went down, and he was trapped and appeared to be destined to death, or at least capture by the Confederate cavalry. A young trooper named Norvell Churchill, however, intervened, deflecting a saber blow intended for Custer and extricating the boy-general from the field. This is an event worthy of note, and should be memorialized with a monument.

The problems that Karl and I had were that Laurie Harding, the so-called emcee of the event, was long winded and boring. It also is shameful that she had no notes and couldn't remember the name of the fourth author that she was so glad was in attendance. Basically this says, "Hi. I'm glad you're here even though I can't remember your name and wasn't smart enough to write note cards."

Why, after the intros, the speeches and the pontificating did they then feel it was necessary to take a group picture? Children and even some adults (Karl and I among others) were getting restless. Couldn't the picture-taking have waited until the monument dedication was done?

We won't even get too harsh on the reenactors portraying Custer and Churchill other than to say have you ever seen a photo of Custer in a kepi and frock coat? I haven't! With all the Churchill descendants in attendance, couldn't they have found someone who looked a bit more like the actual person?

So, after the photo, it was up to the monument for more speechifying (of course!), and then they finally pulled the cover and unveiled the monument. I must say, it was nice. I think it served the event well. It would have been a bit better had the ya-hoo portraying Custer stepped back a bit and let the people look at and photograph the monument (Dude! You're not Custer, and it isn't your monument. Get over it!).

All in all, it was an ok event celebrating something that needed to be done. I'm glad I went. Even knowing ahead of time how things would have been, I still would have gone. I do think the event itself could have been a bit shorter and a lot better, though!
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