By Brian Jewell
It’s a year of remembrance and celebration in Tennessee, where musical heritage and American history blend in perfect harmony. Groups that visit the state this year will find a variety of special commemorations highlighting the key events and colorful characters that have played a role in shaping Tennessee into the popular destination it is today.
Communities in East Tennessee are commemorating important historical events this year. Chattanooga is home to the state’s signature Civil War Sesquicentennial event that will take place in October. And in Pigeon Forge, the Titanic Museum Attraction has declared 2013 the “Year of the Children” and is featuring special exhibitions about the children who traveled on the fateful voyage.
Tennessee’s musical hot spots are doing their share of celebration as well this year. Memphis is celebrating its rock and soul legacies, with special exhibitions at the Stax Museum and Elvis Presley’s Graceland. And the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville is toasting the city’s recent ascendance into television stardom with a special museum exhibit.
Finally, residents of Union City are busy preparing for the fall opening of Discovery Park America, a new educational and entertainment attraction focused on nature, science, history and art.
Music City invaded Hollywood last year when the new television drama “Nashville” became a hit for ABC. The Country Music Hall of Fame is helping the city celebrate its newfound stardom with a special exhibit called “Nashville: Like a Country Song,” on display until October 31.
Visitors can learn about the television show’s local roots — much of the program was filmed in Nashville — and see numerous items and memorabilia related to the show. Highlights include the dresses worn by stars Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton during an on-screen duet performance, as well as a Gibson guitar played by actor Sam Palladio and a copy of the pilot episode script signed by members of the cast.
In addition, the Country Music Hall of Fame will more than double its size when it opens new exhibition space early next year. Highlights are set to include a new 800-seat CMA Theater, an interactive family gallery, the Taylor Swift Education Center, and exhibits showcasing contemporary artists and modern country-music trends.
Civil War Commemoration
The Civil War made its mark on nearly every region of Tennessee, including in the southeast, where the battles for Chattanooga raged in 1863. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the action in Chattanooga, and the state has chosen the Chattanooga commemoration as its signature Civil War Sesquicentennial event for 2013.
Occupation and Liberation will take place October 9-12 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Visitors will hear from some of America’s foremost historians on the battles for Chattanooga and will be able to tour special exhibits showcasing rare artifacts from the battle. The commemoration will also include living-history demonstrations and special tours for groups.
If your group can’t attend the special event, you can still learn about the Civil War history in East Tennessee during a visit to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, as well as the national cemetery and Confederate cemetery in the area.
Next: Children of the Titanic
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