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SU hosts event on Civil War

Conference offers perspectives on Valley Campaign

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Shenandoah University hosted a sesquicentennial conference Saturday that offered perspectives on Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign.

More than 200 people registered for the event, according to Terry Heder, director of interpretation and field programs at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
Attendees were able to listen to five different speakers throughout the day, with each of them communicating their research of not only the campaign but of the impacts and importance of it.

"Jackson's Valley Campaign is the most well known in the valley, but a lot of people don't know why," Heder said. "Today will give people a better understanding from specific stories, rather than a general glossing over of history."

The conference is one of 40 scheduled events for the foundation, which will take place from March 3 until June 16. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the campaign and different programs will take place in eight counties in the region. Events include guided tours, conferences and reenactments, Heder said.

"[The foundation] exists to preserve battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley, but that only works if we see that visitors and communities benefit," Heder said, adding that the foundation has 6,000 acres of battlefields preserved.

Books written by the speakers were for sale at the conference, and Heder said that half of the proceeds will go toward preservation through the foundation.

While events like the conference on Saturday are put on by the foundation, many other programs are a joint effort between the foundation and local historical societies.
Heder said that the events aren't just about learning, though.

"History has a double effect in that it can also be an economic driver for communities," he said. Those who attend the events often stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants and visit different sites.

"By preserving these sites, visitors are gong to come and put dollars into the local community," Heder said. "Commemoration is an unparalleled chance to do that."

Heder was pleased with the day's turnout, as well as he audience to speaker interaction during presentations.

"It's all about the two way commentary...we want them to have that 'a-ha' moment when they realize just how important this history is," he said. Heder also wants to keep kids involved and interested in learning about the valley's significance during the Civil War.

"An event is wonderful, but you want to see a longterm impact," he said.

For more information on the foundation's events in the valley, visit www.shenandoahatwar.org.

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