I talked to Steve Abolt on the phone. The memorial ceremony held on Sunday at Dade Battlefield went fantastic. It was pulled off perfectly, and very moving.
I wish I could have been there, but had to get my fill of bitchy Canadians working in the park down here. Hey, why even ask me what the weather will be like this week? It will be better than anything from where you just came from! If it wasn't for Andy Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, we could have an ambiguous government that has ducks on their coins, just like you! But, more of NOLA next week--I have plenty to say about that!
Anyway, back to Dade. The ceremony was very moving, and gave the proper respect to those who fell around the breastwork. And the ceremony lasted longer than the battle reenactment. The audience became participants during parts of the ceremony, and you could hear a pin drop at other parts. This is what historical interpretation is all about, that connects with the people and makes them say, "Wow!" That for just a short time takes them back and lets them get a glimpse of the past. The past is no longer a dull page in a moldy book--it is alive, with faces, smells, sounds that dare to reach into the soul.
Ransom Clark was just 23 years old when he survived the horror of Dade Battle. And he died 5 years later at the age of 28 from wounds suffered there.
The first Dade Battle reenactment I saw was six weeks before my 23rd birthday. I am now almost 46, twice that age. During the past 23 years I have participated at the battle many times.
Our experiences at the battlefield over the years are more than I can detail here. The friends we made; the friends who have disappeared or passed away. The fun times we have had certainly are too many to remember.
I have seen the final resting place of Dade's soldiers under the mass grave at St. Francis Barracks in St. Augustine. I have Seen Major Dade's wife and daughter's graves in St. Michael's cemetery in Pensacola. I have been on parts of the Fort King Road, in Tampa, near Fort Foster, the Withlacoochee, Dade Battlefield, and up to where Fort King used to be in Ocala. I have worked at Fort Morgan, where Ransom Clark was stationed before coming to Florida, a year before Dade's battle where he was the only survivor of a capsized boat in Mobile Bay. And I have given my respects at Clark's grave in western New York state, in full Seminole regalia. You might say that the battle has become part of me, too!