“The battlefield lecture starts in five minutes upstairs,” the kind Park Service gentleman explained. “It lasts about 45 minutes.” A 45 minute lecture about the Battle of Antietam? Did this guy even see the 12 year-old boy standing next to me? We needed cannons. Like now.
Another Park Service representative had been leaning against the wall eavesdropping on the conversation. Quietly, he slipped a pack of trading cards into my son’s hand. And he winked knowingly at me. Baseball, hockey, history...trading cards work with my son.
“Look,” I said, pulling the Kid out of earshot. “Let’s just walk upstairs to be polite. We’ll stand in the back of the room so we can slip out unnoticed and come back down for the movie.”
Forty-five minutes later the Kid and I were sitting on the window ledge at the front of the room, mouths agape, completely mesmerized by the young guy giving the lecture. Dude was good! No fancy videos or special effects. He periodically held up sepia-tinted photographs wrapped in plastic. This kid understood the art of storytelling and he did it beautifully. His energetic tone and engaging speaking ability brought the Battle of Antietam to life.
If this is what the future of history looks like, we’re going to be in good hands.
This post is adapted from a piece I wrote about a spring break trip my family took two years ago.