An unapologetic love letter to Historic Fort Snelling, part two – a reprise
2017 note: This is part two of my story from the end of the last legislative session about bond funding for the restoration of Historic Fort Snelling. The Minnesota Historical Society is trying again this year.
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In part one, I described the bonding request from Historic Fort Snelling and the Minnesota Historical Society to the Legislature for a new visitors’ center and the renewal and re-imagining of the site. I included some photos of fort activities involving young people. Here are some more photographs that I have taken over the years.
This is a photograph of volunteer re-enactors, portraying the return of the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Regiment after the end of the Civil War, streaming through the gate into the fort. This was in 2015, part of the observation of the 150th anniversary of the end of the war. Hundreds of volunteers participated in the event, and thousands watched.
This event also involved many re-enactors who weren’t soldiers, but loved ones and others who turned out to greet the returning soldiers. And the costumes were amazing.
The fort has a Civil War weekend every summer — not as elaborate as the one for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War — and special events for other major conflicts in which the U.S. was involved, fur trading events, and events highlighting the early interaction between the fort and the indigenous population.
One of the things that impresses me is that the special events require the participation of hundreds of volunteer re-enactors, people who supply their own uniforms and do it on their own time.
A lot of people know about Civil War re-enactors, but that barely scratches the surface of it. On Memorial Day every year, soldiers from all of the eras in American history are represented.
I’ll bet, gentle readers, that most of you had no idea what soldiers on the Pike expedition looked like. Now you know, and you are richer for it.
Jared is a teacher, by the way, as many of the volunteers and employees at Historic Fort Snelling are, as I have learned over the years. I suppose this ought not to surprise us.
World War II’s weekend commemoration every year always brings out the veterans, fewer of them every year, who will recount their own experiences, sometimes to surprised children and grandchildren.
This is also true of the Vietnam-era vets who come out to the fort. (Just by the way, you have probably noticed that one fellow appears in a lot of the photos. That’s because he’s my son, Andy Timmer, a teacher, by the way. Andy literally grew up at Historic Fort Snelling.)
As I said, not all of the re-enactors portray soldiers.
I cannot close, though, without mentioning a couple of people who have been involved in the company of Historic Fort Snelling for as long as I can remember: Jeff Nordin and Spence Johnson. (There are others, too, but I have last Memorial Day photos of these two.)
Jeff also leads a fife and drum corps that plays at events like Grand Old Days in St. Paul.
If you have ever been to Historic Fort Snelling, the chances are excellent that you have seen one or both of them.
I ask you again to contact your legislators and ask them to support Historic Fort Snelling’s bond request. There is no finer investment in preserving the history of Minnesota.
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