5/29/2013 1:59:00 PM Publisher's Column
Civil war days
Memorial Day Weekend this year really seems to me like an appropriate time to contemplate the Civil War and civil war. In a couple weeks, Friends of Wasioja will produce the second Wasioja Civil War Days, the Minnesota State Legislature has just completed its annual session of civil war and right here in Dodge County I find myself engaged in a minor skirmish of journalistic civil war.
The Hayfield City Council at its last meeting approved a hot dog stand in the city park and an ordinance allowing residents to have hens but no roosters. Our ace reporter, Tara Lindquist wrote up the story and then yelled, "Hey, how's this for a headline, Council says yes to weiners, no to cocks?" We all had a good laugh, and then I said, "I don't think so." Tara, who also does our website, was disappointed. We don't pay fabulous wages, though, and one of the perqs we do try to offer is having a little fun, so I relented and said she could put it on the website. I had no intention of putting it into print, but somehow the web seems a little more avant garde, somewhere between newspaper and television.
Next morning, my breakfast was interrupted by a phone call from the mayor expressing an opinion that the headline made Hayfield look like hillbillies and threatening to go to all the businesses in town to tell them to stop advertising with us, if the article appeared in the newspaper. He has since advised me that the council may decide to drop us as the city's official newspaper.
As I write this, I find myself in an uncomfortable position. I hadn't planned to run it in print but don't take kindly to threats from elected officials. If I don't run it, he may think I caved to his threat; if I do, it will only be to demonstrate that such threats don't work. I have until Tuesday morning to work it out.
Don't get me wrong about the mayor. He's not a bad guy. I wish he had just called and expressed his opinion about the article and, maybe, closed with something like, "I know you're going to have to make the decision, but I would appreciate it if you didn't run it that way." Then I could have said, "I don't plan to run that in print."
Meanwhile, our email overflows with releases from Minnesota politicos battling to convince readers that either the Democrats have saved the state from disaster or that they have destroyed any chance for a prosperous economic future. Unpleasant, but better than what's happening between the Sunni and Shiia politicos in Iraq.
Wasioja Civil War Days is coming the third weekend in June, June 15 and 16, at Wasioja. Once again, there will be Union and Confederate encampments, and cavalry and artillery encampments offering periodic drills and demonstrations.
Civil War period sutlers will be set up offering services such as would have been available to soldiers during the Civil War and merchandise for sale.
Two battles will be reenacted, the Battle of Mill Springs and the Battle of Antietam. Both will be followed by medical demonstrations giving examples of the kinds of injuries and treatments were experienced by Civil War soldiers.
The 1812 Overture will be performed with artillery support, and there will be a military/civilian ball in period dress. There will be a dramatic performance of "A Mother's Story," the Civil War as seen through the eyes of a Union and a Confederate mother. There will be performances of Civil War period music and discussions of various aspects of life during the period. And there will be activities for youth.
This is the second episode of Wasioja Civil War Days by the Friends of Wasioja and probably the last, so be sure to make plans now so you don't miss it. Detailed information about the event is available on the web at www.civilwarmn.com.