National Voices: ‘Bleeding’ weekend got sesquicentennial off to a promising start
September 27, 2013 12:11 AM | 2114 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last weekend was anything but dry in Marietta, as heavy rains washed out most of StreetFest around Marietta Square.

But looked at another way, it was an encouraging “dry run” for what is coming our way next year in connection with events tied to the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

The Civil War sesquicentennial is in full swing. And this past weekend saw a first taste of that here as the city rolled out its first-ever “Bleeding Gray and Blue Weekend.” The list of events included special tours of sites downtown that served as locations of battlefield hospitals during the war, led by local researcher Brad Quinlin; special displays at the Marietta Museum of History; and the dedication of another statue and special tours at the Confederate Cemetery, final resting place of more than 3,000 Confederate soldiers, most of whom are “unknowns.”

Capping the weekend was the sold-out debut at The Earl Smith Strand Theatre of a new 35-minute movie about Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The movie — “Kennesaw: One Last Mountain” — which cost almost $500,000 to make and used local actors and more than 150 re-enactors, will ultimately be featured in the Visitors’ Center at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. It got bravos from those in attendance at the debut, and will no doubt be applauded by those at the Visitors’ Center as well.

And there’s little doubt that next year should bring plenty of visitors. Park Superintendent Nancy Walther predicts the weekend of the battle’s anniversary in late June should mean a surge of more than 100,000 people into the park, which drew 1.9 million people in 2012 even in a non-anniversary year. The park and the city have a wide range of events planned, including “real time” tours of the battlefield at the same time of day that the battle took place. Another highlight will be the rededication of the Illinois Monument on Cheatham Hill, where the heaviest fighting took place, and where the purchase of a few acres for preservation by Illinois veterans decades later served as the nucleus of the present-day park.

All told, that weekend and the other commemorative events planned next year will serve as a tremendous opportunity to educate the public about our county and country’s past, commemorate the sacrifices that took place here and show off our community.

This past weekend thus was a small-scale dry run for next year — and a promising start.
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