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Mt. Pleasant Township mother and son follow masses to Gettysburg

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Since he was 5, Mt. Pleasant Township's William Splendore has been an enthusiast of the Civil War and, particularly, the Battle of Gettysburg.

“It's the best place,” said William, now 12, and a soon-to-be sixth-grader at Rumbaugh Elementary School in the borough.

William and his mother, Margie Splendore, recently joined thousands of others at the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Re-enactment held July 4-7 near the small hamlet in Adams County.

“He knows all about that battle, who the generals were; it's amazing,” said Splendore, a registered nurse.

“I have a great interest in Civil War medicine and I attend all the historical medical events that are offered in Gettysburg,” she said.

In 2006, the Splendore family went on the first of many trips to the hallowed grounds where the single largest and one of the most pivotal military engagements ever fought on American soil took place.

“The battlefields there are really spooky and really cool,” William said.

During the past seven years, William's interest in Gettysburg has manifested in a massive collection of books, DVDs, miniature soldiers and a tabletop-sized diorama in his home, which outlines the clash that took place there from July 1-3, 1863.

“Going to Gettysburg as many times as we have, really getting immersed in it, it has really inspired him,” said Splendore regarding the biannual trips to the site with her son.

“We have stayed in all the famous places, such as the James Gettys Hotel, the oldest hotel in Gettysburg started by the city's founder,” she said.

Family friend William Lane, 56, of Mt. Pleasant Township accompanied the Splendores on that trip last summer.

“I think he's been there more times than me,” Lane quipped about William. “He watches movies and reads books on the Civil War all the time.”

On this trip, the Splendores stayed at Gettysburg College, which once offered its main buildings as makeshift hospital wards for those wounded in the battle.

They explored a “Living History” encampment and activities tents, witnessed field demonstrations and observed the full-scale re-enactment of the battle.

The Splendores said seeing the battlefields and imagining the carnage and heroism that once took place was one thing, but witnessing the re-enactment was another.

Participants dressed in uniforms that mirrored those worn by the Union and Confederate troops of the time to recreate the battles that took place before their eyes.

“History's being made right in front of you,” William said.

As a first-grader at Rumbaugh, William said he first learned about Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves and the Gettysburg Address.

He admitted that no book has ever taught him more about Gettysburg or the Civil War than the experience of being there.

William is the son of Bill and Margie Splendore.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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