The National History Day – California State Finals competition took place at the Riverside Convention Center from April 27 to April 29 with approximately 1,000 students, parents, and teachers in attendance at the competition.
The local committee, comprised of representatives from the Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Convention Center, the Riverside Downtown Partnership, and the Riverside Unified School District scheduled activities for the students on April 28th with a number of the events open to the public.
In conjunction with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s “Force of Arms: Riverside’s Participation in American Wars from 1861-2011” exhibit, the National World War II Museum displayed actual World War II footlockers filled with artifacts from “the war that changed the world.” In addition, Walter D. Ehlers, the only surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor to have stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, shared some of his war-time experiences.
The Culver Center of the Arts screened a special video about the history of Camp Anza, Riverside’s World War II staging camp, and host Frank Teurlay, author of Riverside’s Camp Anza and Arlanza, shared his thoughts on Riverside’s World War II camp.
Along downtown Main Street, between 6th Street and University Avenue, several groups re-enacted history through performances. The Sons of the American Revolution set up a recruiting tent, marched in formation, fired muskets and cannons, and shared their knowledge of Revolutionary War clothing, weapons and life with the community. Members of Soldados y Californios de Southern California and Yester Year Dancers demonstrated clothing, weapons, dance and music typical of the California Mission period.
George Washington re-enactor Roger Cooper will present a program entitled “1775, decisions need to be made,” addressing the Continental Congress for support for the new Continental Army. Characters from Riverside’s own Dickens Festival were also present on the Mall.
Saturday evening featured a public talk by Martin Dugard, co-author of Killing Lincoln, before the announcement of the weekend’s History Day finalists. Mr. Dugard attended Riverside’s Notre Dame High School while his father was stationed at March Air Force Base. The discussion was jointly sponsored by the RCVB, City of Riverside, Riverside County Office of Education, and the Riverside Unified School District’s Teaching American History Project.
Finally, on Saturday evening there was a screening of the movie, ‘Captain America’ in the Convention Center plaza sponsored by the Riverside Downtown Partnership in conjunction with the City of Riverside’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Hosting the National History Day California State Finals gave Riverside a unique opportunity to show off the many intelligent and talented students as well as the culture of lifelong learning that can be found in the City of Arts & Innovation.
To learn more about the NHD program, visit the National History Day California web site at www.historydaycalifornia.org.