December 18, 2014
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Civil War remembered at the Crowne Plaza
Nick Cantor

For those looking to celebrate a piece of American History and learn about some of their local heroes who played key roles in it, a four-day-long event will be taking place starting this Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. For the first time, the National Military Order for the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) will be coming to Rhode Island as part of the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the beginning of the Civil War.

The event is spread over a four-day period, beginning on Thursday, Oct. 18. Most gatherings will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, but there will be numerous daytrips to historical sites across the state.

Author, historian, and commander of RIMOLLUS, Gregg Mierka has been a leading figure in putting this event together, and said he’s extremely excited to educate visitors about the role Rhode Island played in the Civil War. He expects approximately 60 to 75 people to attend, with many traveling from places like Belgium and Hawaii. Mierka estimates that two-thirds of the people are direct descendants of Civil War figures from Rhode Island that will be honored for their roles in the war. Local politicians, including David Cicilline, Angel Taveras and Jim Langevin have all been invited but attendance is still uncertain.

On Friday, the group will travel to General George Sears Greene’s cemetery site in Appanaug, where a wreath will be placed as part of a ceremony with a number of his descendants there. Trips to the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Downtown Providence, and Swan Point Cemetery, where many Civil War veterans are buried, are also planned. A formal dinner will be held Friday night at the Crowne Plaza with former Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank Williams serving as the keynote speaker, a recognized expert on Lincoln.

Mierka has a fascination with the Civil War and Rhode Island’s involvement in the war; a history that often goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Promoting it is one reason he is looking forward to the events.

“We’re working to start a Civil War Museum in Rhode Island,” he said, noting that there isn’t one now.

“I want people to start to understand this stuff,” he added. “All of this is important. Rhode Islanders need to be proud of their history and involvement in the Civil War.”

He is in the midst of working on a book titled, “Burnside and Rhodys: Forgotten Patriots of New England,” which he hopes will reveal the true heroism of General Burnside, as one of Abraham Lincoln’s “most trusted leaders.”

He speaks highly of other Rhode Island figures during the Civil War, including Col. Henry Harrison, who he calls the “Father of America’s Armed Special Forces” and the previously mentioned General George Sears Greene, who will have direct descendents in attendance.

Those who come out for the events will have the opportunity to learn things about their own state during the Civil War that they may never have known otherwise. Generals, colonels and other heroes will be celebrated as critical figures not only in terms of success of the war, but also toward the shaping of the modern day military.


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