Statue of limitations

Col. Henry King Burgwyn Jr. – photo University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The basics of the story were chiselled into the brass plaque in front of us. It described the heroic advance of a young colonel in the Civil War. More important, beside the plaque, in this little gulley known as Willoughby Run in the middle of Gettysburg National Military Park, one of my dearest historian friends, Paul Van Nest, described the final charge of an officer with the 26th North Carolina Regiment on July 1, 1863.

“His name was Henry King Burgwyn Jr.,” Van Nest said. “He was just 21 years of age, the youngest colonel in the Confederate Army. It was his last charge.”

Making history then and now

Tish MacDonald gives her students - bound for Vimy next year - last minute instructions for their Sam Sharpe Gala. April 15, 2016.
Tish MacDonald gives her students – bound for Vimy next year – last minute instructions for their Sam Sharpe Gala. April 15, 2016.

Sometimes, achievement comes in very small packages. And sometimes it arrives when you least expect it. In this case, a friend of mine, a teacher who’s been working diligently to pull together a major event this weekend, was in the middle of something else. Suddenly, one of her students interrupted to show her his latest piece of work.

“He was completely covered in sawdust,” my teacher friend Tish MacDonald said, “and he showed me this wooden silhouette he’d been working on. It was incredible.”

The silhouette is the outline of a soldier, a First World War Canadian soldier, whose figure will join the décor and displays that, in a few days, will transform the local high school in Uxbridge, Ont., into the site of “The Samuel S. Sharpe Gala” fundraiser.

Making memory permanent

Today a tourist trap, Checkpoint Charlie between 1961 and 1989 trapped East Berliners inside the Iron Curtain.
Today a tourist trap, Checkpoint Charlie between 1961 and 1989 trapped East Berliners inside the Iron Curtain.

During a college class the other day, I wanted to give my broadcasting students a sense of the power of television as tool of influence in the 20th century. I chose something in their lifetime – the fall of the Berlin Wall – in 1989. That’s when the Western media began covering the activities of dissidents in East Germany, I said. And that sparked the popular uprising that pressured the Communist regime to open crossing points at the Wall. To make sure my students understood the context, I asked if everybody knew the basis of the Cold War.

“Was Canada involved?” one of my students asked.