Birthday celebration planned for National Park Service

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The public is invited to celebrate the 102nd birthday of the National Park Service on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the at the park’s visitor center, located at 706 Craven Street in downtown Beaufort. Activities include the release and book signing of David Bruce Grim’s second historical fiction book, “Still a Rising Tide,” children’s activities, ranger-led programs and music by Jan Spencer. The event is free of charge.

“Still a Rising Tide” continues the story of Callie Hewett, introduced in his first book, “Swift Currents,” through the complex period of Reconstruction. Grim will share his experience of writing the book set in the time of Reconstruction with visitors at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. He will also be available throughout the day to talk with visitors and sign books. Both books will be available for purchase on site.

Jan Spencer will share her musical talent from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Spencer is a singer, songwriter and performance artist. She has performed around the globe with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt and Tony Bennett.

Throughout the day, children will be able to learn about the park by earning a Junior Ranger badge and other interactive activities. Three ranger-led programs on Reconstruction will be offered for the public at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. A museum exhibit on loan from the Beaufort History Museum and entitled “Reconstruction Beaufort: Islands of Hope in a Sea of Distress” will be on display. The exhibit provides an in-depth look at the challenges and successes of Reconstruction. 

The Reconstruction Era National Monument, established in January 2017, is moving forward with plans to eventually open to the public. While some of the park facilities are in development, there is limited visitor access to some of the park sites in Beaufort and on St. Helena Island.  

“Celebrating the 102nd birthday of the the National Park Service is a perfect time to remind everyone that there is now a national park site in this community,” stated Acting Superintendent Dawn Davis. “The National Park Service is looking for opportunities to connect with the public even though it is not fully staffed or operational.” 

To help the park with these opportunities, the park has started to accept applications from the public for volunteers.  

The Reconstruction Era National Monument is administered by the National Park Service and will be headquartered at the Old Firehouse in Beaufort. Three additional sites include Darrah Hall and Brick Baptist Church, located on St. Helena Island in the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, and Camp Saxton near Fort Fredrick in Port Royal. The Reconstruction Era National Monument is dedicated to commemorating the period from 1861-1900, when nearly four million African-Americans, newly freed from bondage, sought to integrate into a free society and into the educational, economic, and political life of the country.

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