An online journal of Mannie Gentile, a National Park Service interpretive ranger working at our nation's finest National Battlefield: Antietam.
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The onset of the Civil War Sesquicentennial should have us all bracing for a veritable tsunami of cliched and mediocre Civil War-themed art from the usual suspects. As we draw further and further from the original event, the soldiers which appear among the canvases of leading CW artists of today have more the look of reenactors than of scrawny CW soldiers. Enormous energies are expended on the minutiea of uniform detail or forced pathos rather than thoughtful composition.
The art of the Civil War Centennial was often similarly hackneyed, relying more on cliches and the marketing opportunities of the moment than painterly skill, aesthetics, and the evocation of thought or emotion. Here is a typical example of one such piece of "Centennialist" art.
Mannie Gentile (1952-)
Pencil and crayon on newsprint, 8 1/2" x 11"
Scene depicts Federal cavalrymen advancing through what appears to be an abandoned Confederate artillery battery.
One thing that I always find gratifying, both as a teacher and as a parent, is when young people come to realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and start to think about what they can do to make a contribution. When kids discover altruism, they become better people and the world is a better place because of them.
One of these young people, Jimmy Rosebrock, showed an interest in the larger world early on, first as a Boy Scout and then as a volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield. Below is a picture of Jimmy, who, along with his dad (another Antietam Volunteer), provided a Civil War honor guard for the transfer of the remains of a young New York soldier (recovered two years ago in the Cornfield area of Antietam National Battlefield) to Saratoga National Cemetery.
(Jimmy, facing the camera, Jim, his dad with back to camera.)
Today marked the return of Jim after a four-month absence from the Park. The erstwhile kid has returned...
a US Marine.
Jim is very sure of himself, very poised, and very much the same delightful guy we've all come to so appreciate. His family, and his park family are all very proud of him.
And, doesn't it figure, he's showing up at the Park on this, his last weekend of leave, to volunteer.
Arriving at the Park today I was greeted by the sight of legions of busy volunteers .
This army of 1200 happily gathers every year.
They lay out the 23,110 luminaria which commemorate the casualties of the Battle of Antietam
As the last of the luminaria were placed, volunteers and guests convened at the Maryland monument for the 4:15 dedication ceremony.
The proceedings were opened by a choir and an invocation by that great friend of the Park (and my friend), Rev. John Schildt.
Park Superintendent, John Howard gave the opening remarks to a gathering that was fully aware that this is John's final Illumination as a Park Ranger.
John retires at the end of this year but his legacy of excellence will continue on for a long long time, as anyone in the audience would agree.
Despite the chilly temperatures there was a great deal of warmth being directed by the volunteers toward a superintendent who presided over seventeen Annual Illuminations. It was a moving afternoon of remembrance.
At a certain point, the fading afternoon light was slowly overtaken by the glow of the luminaria.
Candles in rank upon rank, representing the fallen of Antietam stretch across the battlefield for miles.