Allison Woods in Statesville, NC, hosted a Living History Day for students. We had a great time! Our focus for this year is American History. They had stations setup to learn about the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Vietnam War, WWI and WWII.
I have to say, I was disappointed in the American Revolution section. By the time we got there near the end of the day, the reenactors were burned out. I don’t know why.. It was only 90 degrees in high humidity and they had on full period garb. Geesh!
The Civil War section was great! We learned about medicine on the field. Did you know they used a syringe with a tube on the end of it to administer anesthetic? They would actually cut a slice in a vein, insert the tube end in and then pump in opium in an alcohol solution. Ouch! Of course, when they became more “modern”, they had a metal syringe with a needle on the end. Good idea except the solution was top loaded instead of sucked up the needle. Many patients died right on the table after being injected. They later learned that’s what happens when you don’t get the air out before injecting. It took all of eighteen months to become a surgeon.
Civil War Medic Tools
The boys both wanted period hats – Ben went with the Confederacy and Noah went Union. It was the war of brother against brother. I’ll bring that back up when we read Across Five Aprils. We had to have our “period” drinks too out of bottles. Ben got root beer (boy was it strong) and Noah went with cream soda in period bottles with a Wizard's Elixir lable. They’ll enjoy having the bottles as mementos. Our pics of this period are limited as we left the camera in the car. :-( Went back for it after this stop. Did you know they boiled peanuts back then? :-) Or the fact that NC recruited more soldiers than any other Southern state?
Boys Civil War Hats and Drinks
Vietnam was the next stop. We got to see the tents, field packs, weapons and vehicles. This was especially interesting to me since my father served in Vietnam. The man doing the presentation served in Iraq. I appreciated his perspective, and, of course, his service!
WWII was the highlight. Ben has a strong interest in all that is WWII. He knew what each American weapon was without them having to tell him. It was so cool for him to get to see the weapons up close and hold them. He was fascinated.
B with a Thomspon and N with a Brit Gun
Noah was more interested in the military dog. They were used in both WWI and Vietnam. They were soldiers – their job was to sniff out people or bombs. The presenter did a great job of sharing how they were trained and used in both wars. Noah loves animals!
Learning about Dogs of WWII
We also got to spend time learning about the ladies of WWII. A female presenter brought with her a Red Cross ambulance and supplies. It was good for all of us to understand the contributions of women during this time. In fact, WWII is when the blood drives came in force. They realized that using whole blood rather than dry plasma greatly increased the recovery rate of soldiers.
WWII Red Cross Ambulance
WWI was our last stop. There wasn’t much there. I guess that’s because there aren’t people living from that time to share with us their experiences. It’s all about what was passed down. We did get to see a German Soldier and the field packs they used.
WWI German Field Supplies
All in all – it was a great time. As we work through history this year, we will recall the presenters and their lessons. The feeling of being there is so much more impactful than reading it from a text.