Heritage Days: Bringing the Civil War to life

Civil War participants fire off their guns during the Civil War re-enactment on Sunday, April 29, 2012 held at the Pierce Farm Center, Woodland Hills, Calif. Photos by William Welles

 

 

The elderly man looked out over the smoke-filled field at the men on horseback, listening to the canons boom. This was the first Civil War reenactment he had ever attended but was far from the first battle.

 

WWII veteran Judge Arthur Alarcon, a decorated soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Normandy, was invited to watch this years Heritage Days Civil War historical reenactment as a special guest.

 

The 86-year-old ninth circuit judge, who has seen far worse carnage than this reenactment can create, still has the straight back posture of a military man.

 

His demeanor, though pleasant, still came with the sharp, clipped responses that military men have.

 

He was a sergeant in the Army Infantry during the war. He received a bronze star and a purple heart during the battle of the bulge. He was also the recipient of four battle stars and a combat infantry badge.

 

“This is my first reenactment,” Alarcon said. “It’s been great, and this campus is beautiful.”

 


  Photos By: Kristen Aslanian, Emad Abbasi, Jose Romero, Ava Weintraub

 

Alarcon’s presence in the reenactment was just one on many events that attracted families and spectators the Pierce College Farm Center.

 

This was the third reenactment to take place at Pierce College. The event included a presidential press conference with “Abraham Lincoln”, Civil War period dancing, and a historical clothing presentation.

 

“This is an opportunity to bring a historical program to L.A.,” Robert McBroom, Farm Center director, said. “This has received huge support from campus administration.”

 

This event did not reenact any particular battles but focused on demonstrating certain types of battles that were common during the war, Ed Mann, reenactment coordinator and acting Confederate colonel said.

 

“We were focusing on earthworks and breastworks,” Mann said. “We use those mounds of dirt that are out in the field to plan our attacks around.”

 

There were two battles each day of the event, one at noon and the other at 3 p.m.

 

The preparation for the event took about a month to complete, according to farm tech Steven Lander.

 

The Farm Center grew barley in the fields for the reenactment McBroom said. They also set up perimeters for each campsite.

 

But battlefields and artillery fire was not the only thing happening at the Heritage Day’s reenactment. An authentic Civil War era dancing was also hosted.

 

Ginger Alberti, a local dance instructor and seamstress, led the dancing. She also sat in a booth during the day with old hand crank sowing machines, giving demonstrations and selling machines.

 

“The boys like to play cowboys and Indians and the girls like the dresses,” Alberti said.

 

The heat of the day and the sound of traffic in the distance didn’t take anything away from the experience, Alberti said.

 

She spoke fondly of how those who participate really took to the characters they played even to the point of taking on the mannerisms of those times.

 

“I only wish there were more living history,” Alberti said. “Everyone comes out to see the cannons but there is much more to see.”

 

The event hosted an estimated 250 participants and several thousand spectators, according to McBroom.