Blast from the past

Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion’s 4th an­nual Her­itage Day hon­ors those who served

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Vir­ginia Lin­dak

PAOLI >> His­tory buffs and mil­i­tary enthusiasts alike en­joyed the Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion’s 4th an­nual Her­itage Day hon­or­ing those who served in the United States armed forces.

Held each year near the an­niver­sary of the Paoli Mas­sacre in late Septem­ber, Her­itage Day is a fam­ily-friendly event fea­tur­ing his­tor­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties for all to en­joy.

En­camped in a spe­cial time­line cir­cle for­ma­tion around the bat­tle­field, vet­er­ans from each of the Amer­i­can wars were rep­re­sented, from the French and In­dian War up through the Viet­nam War.

Food and craft ven­dors, au­thors, his­tor­i­cal site cu­ra­tors, mu­sic and reen­act­ments were pre­sented through­out the day.

State Rep. Duane Milne, R-167, of Wil­lis­town, was among the at­ten­dees, and noted grow­ing up in Malvern con­trib­uted to his ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the preser­va­tion of Paoli Bat­tle­field.

“I’ve been sup­port­ive of the Paoli Bat­tle­field for years, be­cause it’s an honor and priv­i­lege to know that we have a piece of Amer­i­can his­tory lit­er­ally in our back yards. As lo­cal cit­i­zens, we have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to pre­serve and pro­tect it. I like to be part of that ef­fort,” Milne said.

“The time­line is neat be­cause it’s so con­struc­tive to have a liv­ing time­line of his­tory. The ap-

proach is unique. It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of en­camp­ment than you usu­ally see. I love the cir­cle and evo­lu­tion of his­tory, the way this par­tic­u­lar event is set up.”

Adding to the au­then­tic­ity of the day, His­tor­i­cal Mil­i­tary Im­pres­sions, a non-profit group which or­ga­nizes mil­i­tary re-en­act­ments, par­tic­i­pated in the event.

Dozens of re-en­ac­tors in pe­riod cos­tumes rep­re­sent­ing each war, strolled around the bat­tle­field talk­ing with com­mu­nity mem­bers. An­tique guns, weaponry and mil­i­tary sup­plies were also on dis­play in each tent, re­flect­ing the era that they were used. There were also nu­mer­ous fir­ing demos and du­els through­out the day, as well as vin­tage mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles for the crowd to pe­ruse.

“It’s a nice com­mu­nity event. Hope­fully it gives peo­ple an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sac­ri­fices that so many men and women have given in order to de­velop our coun­try, keep it go­ing strong and mov­ing for­ward,” said Tom Mel­lon, vice pres­i­dent of His­tor­i­cal Mil­i­tary Im­pres­sions.

“It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing that they can get all th­ese eras to­gether. You’re not just see­ing what was here on th­ese grounds, but the whole mil­i­tary his­tory of the area. To have the hand­son stuff is great,” said Kelsey Kern, of Malvern.

“I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in his­tory. I thought this would be re­ally cool to learn some back­ground and see how it was to pro­tect this coun­try,” added 10-year-old Gina Kern.

Although the Bat­tle of Paoli was im­por­tant in the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, the bat­tle­field is still seek­ing na­tional land­mark sta­tus. Ad­di­tion­ally, Amer­ica’s first bat­tle-cry “Re­mem­ber Paoli” is traced di­rectly back to the af­ter­shocks of the Paoli Mas­sacre. All pro­ceeds raised from Her­itage Day go to­ward preser­va­tion ef­forts.

“We’re try­ing to be re­mem­bered. Over the past 60 years, it’s re­ally fallen out of mem­ory,” said Bruce Knapp, pres­i­dent of the Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion. “The re­search that we have done has un­cov­ered things that re­ally went be­yond lo­cal in­ter­est. It turns out that ‘Re­mem­ber Paoli’ dur­ing the 18th and 19th cen­tury was a rallying cry that evoked a lot of emo­tions and was the found­ing of some of our ba­sic na­tional val­ues and char­ac­ter­is­tics.”

“This area had such a piv­otal bat­tle in 1777 and it’s for­got­ten,” re­marked Jim Christ, vice pres­i­dent of the Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion. “We have Brandy­wine to the south and Val­ley Forge to the north, and no one re­ally knows the story of Paoli. It was the ninth blood­i­est bat­tle of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War.”

He con­tin­ued, “We have 52 dead (sol­diers) right here on a bat­tle­field that nei­ther Val­ley Forge or Brandy­wine has. We have the sec­ond old­est Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War mon­u­ment in the United States. So we have some­thing here, that no one else re­ally has. We’re fight­ing and us­ing the money raised here to get Na­tional Land­mark Sta­tus. We’re hop­ing next year to get the word from the In­te­rior De­part­ment that we have that sta­tus.”


A re-en­ac­tor shows off his weapons and gear Sun­day at the Paoli Bat­tle­field.


Chil­dren en­joyed Sun­day’s Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion’s fourth an­nual Her­itage Day.

Ev­ery­one dressed the part dur­ing Sun­day’s Paoli Bat­tle­field Preser­va­tion’s fourth an­nual Her­itage Day.


Many re-en­ac­tors were in uni­form rep­re­sent­ing each war from the French and In­dian War to Viet­nam.

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