2006-10-27 / Front Page

Reenactors will bring the War Between the States to life

By Sylvie Belmond belmond@theacorn.com

Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Dan Ancell Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Dan Ancell The battlefield is drawn as soldiers recreate some of the most famous skirmishes that took place during the Civil War. The political arguments of the time still exist today, according to several participants and a filmmaker.

The Rotary Club of Moorpark's fifth annual "The Blue and The Gray" will reenact many of the battles of Gettysburg, including Pickett's Charge, Culp Hill, The Wheatfield and Little Round Top. The historical fundraiser will take place at Tierra Rejada Ranch, Sat. and Sun., Nov. 4 and 5.

The Civil War was the most important event in this country since the Revolution, said Ed Mann, reenactor coordinator and the Confederate commander at the Moorpark event.

The war's effects are still being felt today, he said. Although World War II was more recent, it didn't affect the country as profoundly. Before the Civil War, the country was a union. After the war, it was a nation.

"History will repeat itself, so if you know history you know the future," said Dale Parvin, a history buff and Moorpark Rotary Club member.

"The Civil War changed America. It was a turning point in the U.S. and in the way we lived," said Don Ancell, 69, who's been portraying Abraham Lincoln for the past 12 years.

Lincoln was a great president because he preserved the union, said the tall actor who resembles the man he represents. Lincoln was a people person and a man of faith, instrumental in the freeingof the slaves, Ancell said.

"The similarities between the Civil War and today are very hard to ignore," said filmmaker Yervand Kochar, who directed "The Wounded Warrior," a movie filmed partially in Moorpark.

The film is like getting a backstage pass to the world of how the nation's present conflicts, both internal and external, bear uncanny resemblance to the events of 1864, Kochar wrote on his website.

Just like in those days, the country was engaged in a war of liberation of people whom they really didn't know.

"The slaves, for the people in the North, were as remote as the Iraqis are for us in America today," Kochar said. The Civil War was unpopular and a very hard sale for Lincoln, who was despised and ridiculed throughout his presidency, the filmmaker said. Today, George W. Bush is blamed for the same things.

The struggle of right and wrong throughout the world will continue, Kochar said. The origi

nal war was to restore the union but evolved to freeing slaves, a trailer for the movie points out.

Thus, "the struggle of today is not altogether for today, it is for a vast future," a narrator says in the film. "The Wounded Warrior" quotes Bush as he describes Lincoln's legacy.

Lincoln, an unusually tall and odd-looking man was one of the most reviled presidents during his term of office. Lincoln had to put up with second-guessers and name callers and was ridiculed in the press, Mann said.

"Only after it became clear that he was going to deliver a final victory did his position with the public change considerably," said Mann.

"Given the fickle and impatient nature of the American people when it comes to a long war, I think that President Bush can probably expect no better treatment by the public," said Mann, whose son, Christopher, a Westlake High School graduate, just returned from Iraq.

While there, Christopher Mann was assigned to a Cavalry Scout Troop with the 101st Airborne Division. He was involved in close quarters combat and was regularly in harm's way, said Mann, who is relieved that his son is back safe and sound.

The local Civil War about to erupt on the Tierra Rejada Valley fields is not merely a serious his

tory lesson. The participants have fun while they relive history and entertain the crowds.

"The guys get out on the weekend and get away from the worries-from the rest of the world-and pretend," said Ancell, who enjoys sharing Lincoln's legacy with the next generation.

Ancell didn't know much about Lincoln until he was talked into impersonating him.

"People started calling me 'Abe,' so I played along with that and began to study the man," he said.

The Rotary will host a special program on Fri., Nov. 3 for Moorpark schools. Students will visit the fields and see for themselves what it the Civil War was like, organizers said.

The public reenactment on Nov. 4 and 5 will be at 3370 Sunset Drive in Moorpark, just behind the entrance to Underwood Family Farms. Gates open at 10 a.m. both days, and battles will take place at noon, 3 and 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, and at noon and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Information is available at www.moorparkrotary.com.

Tickets can also be purchased on the website for a reduced price of $13 for adults and $8 for students. Ticket prices at the gate are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Children 5 and under are free.

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