A highlight of my grammar school years was our annual class trip each spring.
Our teachers, along with a few class mothers, would take us on a daylong excursion to an activity designed to not only be fun but educational.
One year, we took a trip back in time to Wild West City, a Western-heritage theme park — think "Bonaza" or "Gunsmoke" come to life.
The re-enactors dressed in clothes from the period and spoke like pioneers of the Old West. My classmates and I had a chance to lose ourselves in the experience.
For a few hours, we lived the lives of 19th century Americans of the West, even if we were in 20th century Netcong, N.J.
This weekend, parts of East Atlanta Patch will play host to the 19th century South as we commemorate the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta.
The battle, fought on July 22, 1864 — in parts of what are now the East Atlanta Village and Kirkwood neighborhoods — was a turning point in the Civil War for the Union Army, which eventually took the city in September.
The cost was great. History tells us more than 12,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were felled on that day.
The BATL organization, which organizes the commemorative events taking place this weekend, aims to educate and explain how the events of the battle laid the foundation to the America we have today.
It's why the weekend is billed as the "Civil War to Civil Rights," Henry Bryant, a longtime East Atlanta resident, Civil War historian told me during a recent tour of our neighborhood to show me the battle's areas of significance.
Bryant, who is BATL chairman and a team of volunteers, have been working since Christmas to put this weekend's events together.
The full schedule of events, which includes living re-enactments, can be found in the accompanying PDF, but here are some highlights you don't want to miss (all free unless otherwise noted):
- The Doublequick, 5K Run/Walk that begins at 8:30 a.m. in Kirkwood's Bessie Branham Park ($17 in advance and $20 the day of).
- The Front Lines, a Living History Encampment, near Gilliam Park in Kirkwood. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you'll be able to experience the 1864 battlefront through the soldiers' living history demonstration.
- Spinning and Textiles, a living history demonstration of life on the plantation near the Clay Family Home site near Gilliam Park. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wreath Laying Ceremony for CSA Maj. Gen. William H.T. Walker at 10:30 a.m., the Walker Monument, Glenwood Avenue and I-20 interchange. Wreath Laying Ceremony for Union Maj. General James B. McPherson at 11 a.m., the McPherson Monument at Monument and McPherson avenues.
- 8th Regiment Band Concert. Hear an authentic brass band beginning at 1 p.m. at Fire Station 13, 447 Flat Shoals Ave.
- The African American Soldier in the Civil War and Now. Maj. Perry Bennett, battalion historian at Fort. McPherson, makes a presentation at noon in the Civil War To Civil Rights Tent at 457 Flat Shoals Ave.
- My Black Confederate Grandfather is a discussion led by Atlanta politician and civil rights activist Ina Evans who explains the story of how her grandfather served in the Atlanta Campaign. The discussion begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Civil War To Civil Rights Tent at 457 Flat Shoals Ave.
- Meet Mr. Lincoln. Honest Abe will be milling about the grounds of East Atlanta, but 12:15 p.m., our president will bin Kirkwood, telling us about life from his days of growing up in his log cabin home to living in the White House to the Civil War. See him at the Kirkwood Library, 11 Kirkwood Road.
- Barry Brown author of "Crossroads of Conflict: Civil War Sites in Georgia" will have a book signing and discussion at Bound To Be Read Books at 11 a.m.
- Twilight Tour of Oakland Cemetery where many soldiers are laid to rest. The tour begins at 7 p.m. (Free with advance ticket.)
And in case you missed it earlier, check out Bound To Be Read Books' owner Jeff McCord's list of must-read Civil War-related books here.