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Remember Your Story…[EDITORIAL]


HeartlandBeat.com is excited to introduce its new monthly Editorial Board.  Each month an editorial will be published from individuals representing a wide range of organizations and offices including the cities, chamber, county, school and other businesses in the Heartland area.  These editorials are just another way that HeartlandBeat will keep track of the “pulse” of our communities.

Shannon Siebert is President of the Henderson Heritage & Tourism Committee.

I was reminded again of the importance of remembering your story after seeing the recent Heartland school musical production of  “Once on this Island”.  It is an entertaining retelling of the story of Ti Moune a Carribean peasant girl who has an interesting journey through love, pain and suffering that eventually unites the island’s poor peasants and wealthy upper class giving them hope.  It was the final song in the musical, “Why We Tell the Story” that wraps it up with the lyrics:

“Life is why, Pain is why, Grief is why, Hope is why, Faith is why, You are why” and most importantly, “Our lives become the stories we believe.”

And that is why I believe it is important that a community sets aside a time and a place for such important retelling of their stories and preservation of their past.  Suzanne Ratzlaff’s Heartland 4th graders did just that at their annual personal research event at the Epp barn a few weeks ago.  How better to bring history alive to your students than to research one’s own family history?  And how fitting that these young students can use the Epp Barn that is filled with its own stories at the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park for a public presentation of their hard work.

It has been over ten years ago when the Heritage Park was started through the efforts of the Henderson Heritage & Tourism Committee.  There was much skepticism about the beginnings of the park and whether there was enough support and need for such a place.  This past year over 1200 guests toured the park representing 25 states and seven countries.  We are striving to become a viable tourist attraction in York County and an integral part of the Henderson community.

I am happy to announce that the park will be expanding its open hours this year.  The park will begin the season Memorial Weekend and will be open Wednesday though Saturday 1 – 4 P.M. every week through Labor Day.  It is always available for visitors by appointment anytime of the week by calling 402-723-4559 or 402-723-5793.  Last summer our family had many out of town guests and it really enhanced their visits when I took them out to the park for a tour.  Make sure you remember to do the same this summer for your guests.

Throughout the year our volunteers receive emails, letters and phone calls searching for genealogical and historical information.  The GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) computer program is available in the General Store for anyone to search for answers to their genealogy questions.  You’d also be surprised how many people simply stop while driving by or search out the Heritage Park in person seeking historical information.  Important antiques, relics, farm equipment, machinery, furniture, books, pictures and memorabilia have found a home at the Heritage park for all to view and remember their story.

A new event we are hosting this year is a Country School Picnic.  This will be held Sunday, June 5 beginning at 3 P.M.  Bring your own picnic lunch, table service and chairs and enjoy our rendition of what most country school picnics were like in the “old days.”  Vintage kids’ games will be played along with a traditional game of softball on the park grounds.  More information will be coming about this new event.

I think a community that forgets to preserve their story eventually loses their values, character, faith and more importantly hope.  Most certainly just like the lyrics in the song “Why We Tell the Story”, we do become the stories that we believe.  That is why it is important to support the preservation efforts of Henderson Heritage & Tourism and join us in telling the story.

Written by Shannon Siebert




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