STURGIS – “Windows to Our Past”, a series of films by Mike Mort, documents the special history of Sturgis. Movie #6 in the series is ready to roll.
“Journey of the 11th” tells the story of some Sturgis residents who fought in the Civil War. The premiere will take place on November 11 at 7 p.m. at the Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. It is also Veterans Day. The cost of the ticket is $10.
Plans for the evening go beyond just airing the Mort documentary. The organizers create a dramatic event from start to finish with the video taking a look at the lives of local soldiers and what they endured. Those who returned and those who did not return.
Opening with a Union Army color guard re-enactment, under the direction of Bruce Gosling, the evening will also pay tribute to veterans.
Mort still works with a research team, but for this documentary, his wife Bonnie was his teammate.
From a stack of Sturgis newspapers dating from 1861 to 1865, Bonnie poured over the day’s news, gleaning information on many levels.
Among his favorites were letters sent home by soldiers as they were printed in the Journal.
The Dead also took a road trip, following “Journey of the 11th” and watching re-enactments at key battlefields.
When it was time to pull it all together, Mort brought in drama students from Western Michigan University to provide the voices for the soldiers.
“They were the right age,” Mort said. “They did a fantastic job.”
Bonnie said: “I’ve watched it a million times and I cry every time.”
She got to watch it so often because the movie was ready for the original June 2020 premiere date. The pandemic delay only made the evening celebration better, Mort said.
“The 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War” written by Civil War historian Eric Faust was a major source for Mort’s film. Faust will attend the premiere while traveling from California for the event.
Bradley Egen, the local actor who played Civil War General William L. Stoughton for the Sturgis Historical Museum film will also be in the audience, but not in costume, Mort said.
Sturgis Wind Symphony, under the direction of R. Scott Davidson, will alternate period music throughout the program.
Lynn Brand, a former drama teacher at Sturgis High School, will direct the moving parts of the production.
“Thank goodness for Lynn Brand,” Mort said. “She knows what she’s doing.
Although members of the Sturgis Wind Symphony worked on half a dozen numbers for Friday’s event, the group will deliver the holiday show in December as usual, Davidson said.