Volunteering – A Way To Give Back!

Pleasanton, KS – The folks who have followed me for a hot minute know that I have already articulated the story of the events that unfolded at the Battle of Mine Creek, in current Pleasanton, Kansas.  So I will not rehash that, but I will link this short story as a call to action.  Mine Creek is the only actual “battle” of the Civil War that took place on Kansas soil and I happen to live within an hour of the site.  Just a short jaunt down Kansas 69 finds me at one of the largest Cavalry engagements of the Civil War. 

It had been a long week filled with some peaks and valleys.  On the downside, I had found out that my position had been eliminated along with a number of other positions.  That was unfortunate.  But there were some significant ups as well.  We, www.thecivilwartraveler.com, sold our first advertisement, my daughter Rooster won her election as student body Vice President and a couple of different events at her track meet and my son, Moose, earned his religious award via the Boy Scouts of America.  So, technically speaking, there had been more wins this week than losses. 

Friday night, I had to report to the hospital for a sleep study.  Thanks to service in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have developed a case of sleep apnea, as so many returning veterans have.  As anyone who has had a sleep study done knows you don’t exactly get the “best night of sleep” of your life.  By 1:40 AM I was lying in bed surfing Facebook on my phone.  I was reminded that I had an event coming up later that day that I was interested in going to.  It was Volunteer Day at Mine Creek Battlefield State Historic Site.  Sleep apnea or no, I was going to go work off some stress from the week. 

Since Moose didn’t have anything going on and he needed some volunteer hours for high school, I grabbed him up and we headed down to Pleasanton, yes, named after Major General Alfred Pleasanton, “The Knight of Romance.”  After we arrived, we were given our assignment by Tami.  She asked us if we brought tools, which we did and she promptly put us to work on the repair of a foot bridge.  The long Kansas winter had taken its toll on the bridge.  After assessing the foot bridge, I determined that I didn’t have the right tools, or the right vehicle for the job, so I asked to be excused and Moose and I headed home to properly gear up.  In the spirit of Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor, we needed “more power.” 

I don’t know what it was, maybe the frustration of my position being eliminated, or the fact that as I have gotten older, I have made a conscience attempt to be better with being “handy.”  But if it took my last breath, that “damn bridge” was going to be fixed!  After two more hours devoted to “coming and going” we finally arrived back in my Jeep with saw horses, a circular saw, hammers, decking screws, a drill, power cell and the all-important tape measure.  Not to mention, the obligatory battlefield bug spray.  As I approached the bridge, now properly armed to do battle, I could hear the faint drums and trumpets in the background.  Not of battle, but the song, “Fanfare for the Common Man.”  You may recognize the tune, from the Olympics.  I cannot emphasize enough that I have never really been particularly “handy” with tools.  I can make a pistol or rifle sing, but when it comes to hammers and wrenches, well, let’s just say I earned the “F” Mr. Webster gave me in wood shop back in high school.  With all that in the back ground, that bridge was going to be “fixed” as God as my witness.

Naturally, Murphy’s Law would pick now to assert itself.  The AC adaptor on the power cell decided that it was not going to cooperate.  Without power, the circular saw and drill became nothing more than paper weights.  But I approached the situation with dogged determination.  That “damn bridge” was going to be fixed!  Moose kind of looked at me with a “now what?” look.  From this point, there was only one direction to go it.  That was to effect repairs the old-fashioned way.  Two men, two hammers and a box of decking screws.  From that point it was on…I am pleased to report that the foot bridge at Mine Creek is now safe for foot traffic.  We were able to effect meaningful repairs, but I have to be honest, I am not done with that “damn bridge.”  I have a meeting with Moose’s Boy Scout Troop leadership coming up.  I am going to propose that one of the Eagle Candidates adopt the idea of replacing the bridge for an Eagle Scout project.  It seems like the perfect Eagle Scout project.  I also have a meeting this week with Jim, the Administrator for Mine Creek.  We met on Saturday at the Volunteer Event, and I believe that I am going to volunteer at the site while I am searching for employment.  This will give me the opportunity to ensure that I get out of the house while I am “on the bench.”  Hopefully, by the time you read this article, I will have already landed.  All that aside, how many of y’all volunteer? 

Since the article was originally written, the bridge rebuild has been approved for an Eagle Scout project and from what I understand, the project is being planned.

The bridge that was in need of repair over Mine Creek. Proud to say, we made it better, but it will be rebuilt soon.
Mine Creek view from the bridge!
A rare view of The Civil War Traveler working. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
The tools of the trade.
I had to bribe Moose with letting him drive the Jeep! I bought the Jeep in Afghanistan, so it will be with me forever.
Moose and I after a hard afternoon’s work! Thanks Mine Creek State Historic Site!!!