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Civil War presentation analyzing the historic and bloody Battle of Antietam set for April 14

Mannie Gentile, a popular Antietam National Battlefield Park Ranger and former Grand Rapids resident, offers an analysis April 14 of the legendary Battle of Antietam
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Mannie Gentile is a popular Antietam National Battlefield Park Ranger and former Grand Rapids resident

Mannie Gentile is a popular Antietam National Battlefield Park Ranger and former Grand Rapids resident

Park Ranger Mannie Gentile roams the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland leading tours and demonstrating artillery

Park Ranger Mannie Gentile roams the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland leading tours and demonstrating artillery

Civil War devotees are in for a real treat Thursday evening, April 14 when Mannie Gentile, a popular Antietam National Battlefield Park Ranger and former Grand Rapids resident, offers an historic analysis of the legendary Battle of Antietam. The well-known 1862 American Civil War battle near Sharpsburg, MA, that resulted in about 23,000 casualties has been described as "America's bloodiest day."

As the first major Civil War battle to take place on Northern soil, the huge conflict was characterized by its great carnage, confusion and pronouncements among historians on how the battle "should have been fought." When the battle forced the Confederate Army to retreat back across the Potomac River, President Abraham Lincoln saw the significance of this and issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation.

"Ranger Mannie" Gentile's presentation, "Considering Antietam with Hat in Hand," will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW. It is free and open to the public. Parking is free, too. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early if they expect to get a seat for this popular speaker.

As a park ranger who is living the dream of every Civil War enthusiast, Gentile will stress the importance of remembering the people who have given us the "gift of our history," individuals who were "ordinary people just like us - capable of extraordinary things." He tries to bring a degree of humility to the field and spends little time second-guessing the actions of the soldiers and generals who shed so much blood on the field.

"It's the job of historians to bring clarity to the events that happened at this battlefield, but it's my job to remind visitors that for the soldiers who fought here, there was no such clarity," Gentile says.

Gentile, a Michigan State University graduate, has always been involved in the field of education, including work in classrooms at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. After relocating to Maryland in 2002, he volunteered at the Battlefield in hopes of seeking other opportunities in its public history education program. Within months he was offered a coveted seasonal park ranger position where he continued his work until January 2010 when his dream of landing a rare permanent spot as full-time park ranger came true. 

"Every time I arrive at the Park, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to work for such an outstanding organization, at such a significant place. and with such a committed group of colleagues," Gentile says.

"Ranger Mannie" chronicles his adventures as a Park Ranger in his blog, "My Year of Living Rangerously" (http://[email protected]). The views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Park Service, the Department of Interior or the Antietam National Battlefield. 
 
The April 14 event is sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Society, the Grand Rapids Civil War Roundtable and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
 

 

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