I was Honored to Speak at the Michigan Historical Museum “Plowshares into Swords” Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

During the kick-off of the Michigan Civil War Sesquicentennial on April 12, 2011, the 150th anniversary of the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter, I was honored to speak at the ribbon-cutting for the new exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. “Plowshares to Swords” is a special exhibit exploring how the Civil War changed Michiganders’ lives. The exhibit features rich personal stories and period artifacts, including a changing array of rarely displayed Michigan Civil War flags. Visitor will leave the exhibit with a better understanding of the experiences and feelings of real Michigan soldiers and families as the nation settled into the four-year-long war.

Michigan Civil War 150th Ribbon Cutting (1)

Michigan Civil War 150th Ribbon Cutting (2)

Michigan Civil War 150th Ribbon Cutting (3)

Michigan Civil War 150th Ribbon Cutting (4)

Michigan Civil War 150th Ribbon Cutting (5)

The title of the exhibit is a nod to the hundreds of everyday Michiganders who left their homes and farms to fight in America’s bloodiest war. “There are many ways to commemorate the Civil War,” said Historical Center Director Sandra Clark. “In our new exhibit and this special event we are focusing on individual soldiers, their families and communities. We hope visitors leave with a better understanding of Michigan in the time leading up to the war and an empathy for those who fought and those who waited at home.”

Inside the museum, stroll through the “Plowshares Into Swords” exhibit and discover rich personal stories – quotes pulled from Civil War diaries and newspapers, plus artifacts – that tell of life in Michigan at the start of the Civil War. Try to decipher the sounds of the telegraph relaying news from the battlefront, and imagine what a family back home would feel, hearing the news of faraway battles.

Four of the state’s cherished Civil War battle flags will also be on display. These flags, often made and presented by local women, were source of pride and inspiration for soldiers. These rarely displayed flags are delicate and cannot be exposed to light for long periods of time. They will be rotated every three months, for a total of 16 flags displayed throughout the exhibit. The first four flags are from the First Michigan Cavalry Regiment, the First Michigan Three Months Infantry Regiment, the Second Michigan Infantry Regiment and the Third Infantry Regiment.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 5, 2012. Admission and parking for this event are free. The museum is located inside the Michigan Library and Historical Center, 702 West Kalamazoo Street, Lansing. The museum and visitor parking are on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. For more information about this and other Civil War Sesquicentennial events, visit SeekingMichigan.org or call 517-373-3559.

Thank you to Sandra Clark, Director of the Michigan Historical Center, and Jack Dempsey, Chair of the Michigan Historical Commission, for allowing me the opportunity to recognize Michigan’s contributions to the American Civil War during this momentous occasion.

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