Blast from the past
Paoli Battlefield Preservation’s 4th annual Heritage Day honors those who served
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.