By Mike Movius
Does your CWRT members visit other CWRTs? If you live in a CWRT oasis like I do in the Pacific Northwest where there are only two CWRTs, that can be difficult. But, if you live in a “target rich” area, it should be much easier. But, why would anyone wish to visit another CWRT? The benefits can be many. Let me give some examples.
I met a couple of Baton Rouge CWRT members at our first CWRT Congress in Centreville. John Potts told me that his round table was holding an annual Civil War symposium. It sounded interesting and I had never been to New Orleans or Baton Rouge, so I booked a flight and went to the Annual Baton Rouge Civil War Symposium.
Not only were the members welcoming, but I made several friends while eating Cajon food and listening to great speakers. Since then, I’ve made it an annual trek. But, even more importantly, John has been a wealth of ideas for the CWRT Congress and my home Puget Sound CWRT…programming, marketing and our survey development. (The photo is of Dave Martin, a dedicated reenactor, BRCWRT member and Friend of Port Hudson). THANK YOU, JOHN POTTS!
I also visited the Robert E. Lee CWRT of Central New Jersey with Jay Jorgensen a founder of the Congress. Jay is not only a fabulous host, but an excellent tour guide. He took me to several historic sites and to the CWRT’s library and research center. I learned an alternative to the traditional dinner meeting. Jay and his CWRT have an open invitation to all members at a restaurant prior to their meeting. They arrive, order off the menu and enjoy the fellowship. Then, their meeting. I LIKE IT!
I visited the Brunswick CWRT in Southport, North Carolina. I stayed with Wally and Nan Rueckel. Wally is another founder of the CWRT Congress. He took me on tours of Fort Anderson, Fort Fisher, Fort Johnston and Fort Caswell. To top it off, I attended a CWRT meeting with over 650 attendees. Are you kidding me? There were 12 volunteers at computerized member check-in stations and a separate station for visitors and new members. The program began with singer Cassie McKee belting out CW-era songs while others sold 50-50 tickets and history books. The presentation by Lori Sanderlin was entitled “Finding Post-War Confederate Sailor H. S. Lebby, Blockade Runner and Privateer”. She mentioned the Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island which I put on my list of places to visit. AMAZING!
I visited the Scottsdale CWRT. Dr. John Bamberl is another CWRT Congress founder. Their check-in is conducted in the foyer of a huge library. On display is a large poster board of photos, etc. of Civil War veterans who are ancestors of some members. They also sell a wide variety of books. The program that evening starred Ed Bearrs. Ed was busy signing books and visiting with members when I arrived. While that was going on, nearly 200 people were in the auditorium intently watching a video interview with their guest speaker. The program format was new to me. Rather than asking Ed to stand and deliver, the program chair asked a short series of questions and Mr. Bearrs responded from a comfortable chair on stage. After the meeting, John held a dinner with his board and Ed Bearrs. WHAT AN EVENING!
I flew to Chicago in December and visited THE CWRT of Chicago. If you don’t know, this is the granddaddy of all CWRTs. I had met several members at various events, and I felt right at home. Their dinner was buffet style in the meeting room. The speaker, Dan Weinberg, put on a very interesting discussion about the Abe Lincoln Book Shop, how collectibles may go through his hands several times to and from buyers/sellers and some of the fascinating items he has owned over the years. After the meeting, I talked with Dan and president Jim Cunningham. They are contemplating new ways to attract and retain members. LOVE THEIR FLAG!
CWRT visitations usually result in great programs and friendly people. Many have resulted in mutually supported projects, working relationships for shared speakers, promotion of CWRT-sponsored battlefield tours and an understanding that there are different ways of organizing, governing and program selection. Some of those methods may be of interest to your CWRT.
For more information about CWRT meetings, check out our website for CWRT meeting schedules https://www.cwrtcongress.org/CWRT-registry/meetings/schedules.php and their meeting locations https://www.cwrtcongress.org/CWRT-registry/meetings/locations.php
And, If you need great speakers, you’ll find them at https://www.cwrtcongress.org/speaker-registry.php Explore the social media channels of other CWRTs at https://www.cwrtcongress.org/CWRT-registry/social-media.php We also have a series of BEST PRACTICES. All this and more are at your fingertips!