Happy Anniversary!

There’s something about anniversaries that intrigue most of us. And it’s not just birthdays and wedding anniversaries - things like that. For historians it becomes almost an obsession, even if there’s no logic in it. And I admit I’m as bad - or worse - than anyone else out there. This past year I visited Normandy on the 70th anniversary of the landings, Flanders during the centennial of the beginning of WWI, and Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary. I live in Franklin, Tennessee, and participated in a ton of things related to the 150th anniversary of the Confederate assault.

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Logo based on Hardees Corps flag 
I’m honored to head up an initiative that funds the conservation of flags held in the Tennessee State Museum, and in 2014 one of our projects was fundraising for the conservation of the brigade flag of Confederate General John Adams, who was killed in action at Franklin. The museum staff knew that this flag would draw particular interest because of the battle anniversary, and they were right. Our story went across the Internet, and we were able to have the flag funded, conserved, and returned in time for the anniversary. In fact, the flag was displayed in Franklin at its unveiling, perhaps for the first time since that Indian Summer day in 1864.

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 Confederate General John Adams Brigade Flag

In 2015 we’re going to be be remembering Agincourt, Appomattox, and Waterloo. Add to that a large number of events in remembrance of the 1215 signing of Magna Carta, and probably more related to the 100th anniversary of the battles of the Great War. And still plenty of others that I’m certainly overlooking. Over the past three years or so I’ve watched the work being done around Waterloo battlefield, and I know they’re working very hard to get that building done by the anniversary. The crowds are anticipated to be large for the week of the living history and reenactments, and I feel sure the new building will be incredible. I’m just disappointed that my schedule and budget may not allow me to be there.

Monument at Quatre Bras
I should note that - yes, I’m being contrarian - very often the dates we observe aren’t actually on the anniversary, due to the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar back in the 1500s. That leaves us something like ten days off, though I do not have the ability to tell you which direction. Well, maybe I do have the ability, but think it would be better to have you read up on it, just to be sure I don't confuse the issue. My point is that when I was at the reenactment of the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1995 and was told that exactly 929 years ago the battle was being fought - well, that wasn’t actually correct.

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Robert the Bruce - Bannockburn 
Anniversaries are great, and I intend to keep celebrating them. But I do hope that people will keep studying and learning about the events of the past, even if it’s not an anniversary year. There are those here in Franklin who are concerned that heritage visitation will slow now that the anniversary year has passed, and I would imagine that those folks in Waterloo and Agincourt are also thinking the same thing. It’s up to us to keep their memories alive, regardless of the day and date. I'm sure we will. Happy Anniversary.