I’ve been watching the Olympics every night since the opening procession last Friday night. It’s amazing to see these athletes perform, and Rio looks like an awesome place, despite some of the stories that have been circulating around about the water quality, security, etc.
The Olympics were inspired by ancient games that were held in Olympia, Greece. In 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee, and the first modern Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens. During the 20th and 21st centuries, the Olympics morphed into various other games, including summer and winter games, the Paralympic Games for athletes with disabilities, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes.
Although the games weren’t formally established until after the Civil War, it’s apparent that Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate, had to endure trying circumstances that would have qualified them for athletic feats of skill. Not only did they have to march for 20 to 30 miles a day, but they had to do it barefoot to boot! (Pardon the pun.) And they had to tolerate all kinds of weather as well. They marched for miles on end, and at times, were immediately thrust into battle once they encountered the enemy. They had to be physically strong and adept at weaponry skills. Most of them were ordinary farm boys, some were immigrants, and a few were American Indians. All had the ability to withstand insurmountable odds.
Last weekend, Fort McAllister State Park in Richmond Hill, Georgia, sponsored the Civil War Olympics. The event was meant to show how the Olympic Games have evolved over the centuries. Children were given the opportunity to throw a cannonball, which resembled a shot put used in olden days. They also played baseball according to the original rules of the game, participated in wheelbarrow races, rifle relays, tug-of-war, and horseshoes. All the participants who won an event received a gold medal.