The Governor’s Foot guard and the National Guard led the procession that saw US Senator Richard Blumenthal among the speakers ushering in the beginning of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Ceremonies Saturday morning at Central Connecticut State University.
Hundreds of people watched as various posts, military groups and reenactment civil war soldiers dressed in military garb marched through the center of CCSU.
Diane Smith of “Positively Connecticut” emceed the program with such distinguished guests as a man dressed as former President Abraham Lincoln.
“We begin here our four-year commemoration of a war that tore the nation apart,” said Smith. “Represented here are troops throughout the years.”
Juan Pugliesi, of the CCSU Board of Trustees, said, “elected officials of New Britain, the state and CCSU, on behalf of the board of trustees it is a great pleasure to be here for this remarkable observance.”
He said that Connecticut funded the war effort supplying men to the front lines.
“Many people from New Britain served in the 14th regiment by Colonel Samuel Moore,” said former New Britain Mayor, William McNamara. “There were 193 casualties from New Britain.”
McNamara said there are many monuments honoring the civil war, but that New Britain led the way with the Civil War Monument at Central Park.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal joked that on the eve of the civil war all US senators abandoned the senate and that today, he too abandoned the senate to be here to honor the civil war in New Britain.
“In reliving history and recognizing its importance, we learn from it, our mistakes, acts of courage and gain a vision,” said Blumenthal. “About 620,000 men perished horribly in pain and often in terrible circumstances and 50,000 civilians perished.”
He said one out of every five men drafted in the south died and in Connecticut that number was over 55,000.
He said it was, however, important as it, “established us as a united power as well as backed the principles of our values of equality, freedom and ended slavery.”
“Despite its cost the nation became a new nation and Connecticut should be proud of the history and values it taught us,” said Blumenthal. “We learn from history that values are worth fighting for.”
Booker DeVaughn, co chairman of the war commemorative committee said the four year celebration of the civil war coincides with the fact that the war was four years long.
“We’re in for a great learning experience,” said DeVaughn. “We will gain new knowledge and dispel old myths.”
He said names will be put to faces of those who played a role across the state.
“We are continually working toward a more perfect union,” DeVaughn said adding that having a President in Barack Obama showed monumental progress. “We still need to move forward on a number of fronts. There are a lot of disparities….We the people needs to include all the people.”
The ceremony began the kick-off of the event and was followed by a number of activities.
Battle Reenactments took place Saturday and Sunday at Stanley Quarter Park that included a Re-enactor Civil War Encampment. Visitors could experience the sights and smells of an encampment, visit the period sutlers (merchants) and see what they were selling, and watch battle skirmishes and firing demonstrations of cannons and muskets.
Other activities included at Exhibit Hall in the CCSU Student Center dozens of state organizations displaying their Civil War items, programs, and connections; a vintage baseball game at Stanley Quarter Park on Sunday; a Civil War lithograph and envelope display in CCSU’s Chen Art Gallery; and a Civil War exhibit available for viewing in Elihu Burritt Library.