PITTSTON TWP. — Civil War history came to life in the Greater Pittston Area on Sunday, with nearly 200 area residents gathered for a preview screening of “Mercy Street,” a Civil War drama based in the Mansion House Hospital in Virginia to be aired on public television.
The event sponsored by WVIA at its Public Media Studios drew Civil War aficionados from all over the area, many of them donning period appropriate costumes, providing a flurry of color and historic background.
Chris Norton, WVIA vice president, said he was grateful for the opportunity to welcome the community into the studios to learn more about Northeastern Pennsylvania’s connections to the Civil War.
Mike and Lisa Terninko, Harveys Lake, dressed in authentic Civil War attire, said the event was a great way to spend an afternoon in both learning and fellowship.
The Terninkos, who travel to Gettysburg for historic dance events, said they enjoyed dressing in costumes which reflected both the social and historical aspects of the war.
Lisa Terninko said it took quite a bit of coaxing for her husband to don his costume, complete with an ornate vest, pocket watch and highly polished shoes, but that he had fully embraced it.
“I’ve also been recently asked to portray Teddy Roosevelt,” said a smiling Terninko, “They say I look just like him.”
Cara Sutherland, executive director of the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science and Art, spoke about the role and education of medical personnel during the Civil War era, many of which she said went from “medical school to the battle field.”
She spoke of the danger encountered by doctors and nurses as they tended to fallen soldiers.
Bravery, she said, was necessary even for medical personnel.
“The key to being successful was how fast you could cut,” she said. “There were many amputations, with antibiotics not yet available.”
She also emphasized the role of nurses on the battle field, stepping courageously into a relatively new profession.
Sal deFazio, author of “Hazleton at War,” said the war, fought on U.S. soil, required commitment not only from armies, generals and soldiers, but from ordinary citizens.
“Many area residents took the war very seriously,” he said. “Many women served simply by making uniforms for those who fought.”
Ted Nafus, from the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry Civil War Reenactors, who greeted attendees, said the event was “a lot of fun” for the more than 10 members of the group who participated in the event.
Ginny Fredmonski, director of Major Gifts & Planned Giving, said the event provided a chance for WVIA to familiarize the community with its facilities and offerings to the community.
Neil Prisco, promotions director, said the event was unique in that it celebrated the presentation of “Mercy Street,” while providing opportunity for those wanting to learn more about the Civil War to do so in an interactive center.
The event concluded with a reception at which attendees were encouraged to approach actors and reenactors with questions, providing further opportunity to gain an understanding of the Civil War in social and historical context.
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLggibbons.