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General Parker Hills - Art of Commemoration

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Across the South, General Parker Hills is considered a celebrity for his unparalleled knowledge of the Civil War. He served almost 32 years in the U.S. Army uniform in active and reserve components, retired in 2001 as a brigadier general under the Mississippi Army National Guard, and currently owns Battle Focus, a leadership training company specializing in educating, enhancing teamwork, and developing strong leaders.

While he trains soldiers, Marines, airmen, tourists, and corporate leaders, he holds an undergraduate degree in Commercial Art from the University of Southern Mississippi, Masters of educational psychology from Sul Ross State University, and is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

He uses his educational experiences as he writes about the monuments in the Vicksburg Military Park, “Hopefully this volume will lay a concrete foundation of interpretation, reinforced with the steel of fact, so that a larger audience will experience the artistic marvels that are unique to Vicksburg. The reader, however, should not be limited by my interpretation. Oscar Wilde noted that, ‘Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has ever known.’ Wilde’s individualism applies not only to the expressions of the artist, but to the interpretations of the viewer.”

He continues, “Soon after Vicksburg National Military Park was established in 1899, the nation’s leading architects and sculptors were commissioned to honor the soldiers that fought in the campaign. The park’s earliest state memorial was dedicated in 1903, and over 95 percent of the monuments that followed were erected prior to 1917. An aging Civil War veteran who hastened to Vicksburg to see the resulting works was so impressed that he aptly described Vicksburg National Military Park as ‘the art park of the world.’ The work of commemoration has continued sporadically since 1917, and today, over 1,370 monuments, tablets and markers dot the park landscape.”

The Museum welcomes General Parker Hills Saturday, February 7, at 2 PM for a program in conjunction with Civil War Drawings from the Becker Collection. General Hills uses an audio-visual presentation, “Art of Commemoration—Vicksburg National Military Park” to describe and interpret the spirit of the park and the valor of the soldiers and sailors who struggled as participants in the Vicksburg Campaign. He discusses the monuments and markers, through their information, art and architecture which signify, or honor, these combatants. He also touches on the superior quality of the sculptures and architecture that largely resulted from William T. Rigby, the park’s first resident commissioner. Cost: Program free with purchase of exhibition ticket, $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students, FREE children 5 and under, FREE Museum members. Space is limited; pre-registration suggested. Click here to register.