Tuesday, Jul 26, 2011
As the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Battle of First Manassas came to a close, many staff and volunteers who endured days of record temperatures to create the experience were tired but pleased. The event was considered a success by all who participated and by visitors who braved the heat to remember the battle that changed the country’s perception of civil war. Comments received through the park’s social media sites was almost universally positive.
Commemoration highlights included speeches by Director Jon Jarvis, University of Richmond President Dr. Edward Ayers, Governor of Virginia Robert F. McDonnell, and NPS Chief Historian Emeritus Dr. Ed Bearss. Living history volunteers from the United States Marine Corps Historical Company provided infantry and artillery demonstrations and the Fort McHenry Historic Fife and Drum Band performed for a crowd of several hundred.
The incident management team helped visitors, staff and volunteers handle the oppressive heat by providing water supplies and misting tents. Personnel at several first aid stations were ready to respond to on-site incidents and cautioned visitors about staying hydrated and knowing the signs of heat-related illness. All of these preparations paid off, as no visitors were transported to the hospital and few people required treatment for heat related illnesses.
One of the most innovative parts of the event was the use of social media for public information. The National Capital Region’s Office of Communication video team and Civil War Sesquicentennial social media team came together to collect video, still photos and information and download and post them on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. Staff used Twitter to send updates from the event. For more information visit the park’s website www.nps.gov/mana and social media sites, www.facebook.com/manassasbattlefield, http://twitter.com/manassasnps, www.youtube.com/manassasnps, www.flickr.com/manassasnps.
Undoubtedly, the success of the event would not have been possible without the efforts of National Park Service volunteers. Identifiable by their light blue shirts, volunteers were easily spotted across the battlefield, helping in all areas of the event, from assisting with equipment setup and takedown to providing interpretive programs in the family and youth tent to capturing the event through photography and social media. Volunteers put over a thousand hours in to make the event a success.
Volunteers traveled from near and far to lend a hand at the event. Trisha FitzGerald, an EMS volunteer ranger at C&O Canal National Historical Park and a member of the National Capital Region’s Potomac River Safety Committee, assisted the EMS Gator Patrol Staff at Manassas over the four-day event. Members of the patrol were on call throughout the event and provided a quick response to visitors needing medical attention or those showing signs of heat exhaustion and other medical conditions.
When asked about volunteering with the NPS, Trish responded “I’m glad to represent the National Park Service and give it 100% every day I am here. I believe in what I do and am glad to be part of the NPS family.”