The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Brandon Cline
For The Sentinel 

History comes alive at Stonehenge


September 12, 2018

Maryhill State Park

A HUNDRED YEARS LATER: Mark Harris does presentations on World War I in full costume.

It was a packed, cramped room on the night of Sept. 8 at the Stonehenge Memorial in the Maryhill State Park, as people young and old alike gathered for an engaging and insightful presentation on World War I from state park ranger Mark Harris.

Harris began giving this Saturday night presentation earlier this year, after the Goldendale Observatory operation was moved to the Stonehenge Campus as the Observatory currently undergoes renovations. Stonehenge, a full-scale replica modeled after the original in England, is a memorial that was commissioned by Samuel Hill in 1918 to honor the 14 soldiers from Klickitat County who died in World War I.

"With the 100-year anniversary of the armistice coming in November, my bosses thought it would be a good idea to do this to tie things in," said Harris. "They know that I do living history when I can, and I enjoy talking about the era that I'm passionate about. In the reenactment and living history world you have the American Civil War and World War II, those are the big ones. Outside of that, people don't really know what went on."

Harris's deep passion for history began when he was a child. A self-proclaimed "history junkie," he was a fan of CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite growing up and the way he delivered the news. And it certainly didn't hurt that his father was a United States history teacher, either.

Harris is dressed in full uniform with a litany of accessories while delivering his presentation, all of which he was able to find on the internet. The presentation goes into great detail on topics such as new technologies used during The Great War, how uniforms differed between participating countries, the role women played in the war effort, and what ultimately led to one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.

Perhaps the biggest treat of the night came at the end of the presentation, when Harris channeled his Scottish and Welsh ancestry-accent and all-to reenact a soldier's war experience, from first hearing about the war, to getting shot, to dealing with the affect the war had on him back home.

That included the famous Christmas truce of 1914, where ceasefires occurred along the Western Front as soldiers on both sides mingled together, singing Christmas carols, playing soccer and exchanging food, drinks and in some cases even prisoners. But Harris also makes sure to remind the crowd that the war resumed the very next day, that the good times didn't last.

Harris himself served in the United States Army from 1984 to 1991, where he earned the rank of corporal. He hopes his presentation helps people better understand this time in history and to tie it in with what's presently happening around the globe in 2018.

"With all of the stuff going on in the world today, a lot of it started back then," Harris said.

There will be two more presentations in September, on the 15th and 29th. Both presentations start at 6 p.m. and are free to the public. There will also be a memorial held at Stonehenge on Sunday, November 11 at 10 a.m. to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I. Harris will give his final presentation that night at 6 p.m.


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