Retired Skaneateles Teacher Returns to State Street for Civil War Presentation
Fifth-grade students recently saw a familiar face in the State Street library, as retired teacher Nancy Fortais returned to the building to teach students about the roles of men and women in the Civil War. Fortais, who has always been interested in the history of the Civil War, also spoke about the background of a book the students recently read: The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy.
Fortais explained that many young men- boys, even- in the war played in the band, while women baked goods and knitted clothes for soldiers. Fortais was dressed up in a traditional women’s outfit for the presentation: a bonnet, traveling dress, hoop skirt, detachable sleeves, and boots.
Fortais also told the students about the significance of Memorial Day. In 1866, Americans wanted to honor the soldiers who had died in the war, so they began decorating their graves. They wanted to choose a day to honor these brave soldiers and decided on May 30. This day was chosen because it was the only one in May that was not connected to any Civil War battle.
At the end of the presentation, students asked lots of questions about John Clem (the boy in the cover of the book) and other historical figures like Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton.