History on screen

As a retired history teacher, I recall that each year, my most challenging goal was to instill in my students an appreciation for the importance of the past. “The present,” I opined, “is really the past in the process of creating the future.” If my words failed to inspire, I would introduce students to the thoughts of great authors like William Faulkner who wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” But alas, I fear that even the world’s most profound thinkers, past or present, would have great difficulty convincing eighth graders that there is any value in the study of history! Perhaps many Americans feel the same today.

Well, here’s some good news! On Sept. 30, the Community Arts Center premiered a documentary film entitled, “Surrender! The Sudden Death of Alvira, Pennsylvania.” It is fair to estimate that over 1,500 people attended this event.

The movie was produced by retired Williamsport educators Steve and Martha Huddy following five years of extensive research which took them from the serene landscapes of the White Deer Valley to various offices of the state and federal governments–and beyond. It is an outgrowth of earlier investigations by Mr. Huddy and his co-author, Paul Metzger, which resulted in a book published in 2009, “Alvira and the Ordnance–An American Dream . . . Denied.”

Well-told, history is the best roadmap we have in our efforts to create a brighter future. The historical journey taken by the Huddys evolved into not only a fascinating, enlightening and emotionally powerful film, but a poignant reminder of how connected we all are to the past.

“Surrender!” accomplished much more than the mere of chronicling of historical data. The film reinforced the notion that history is alive, exciting, instructive, essential and infinite. The Huddys documentary articulated a clear and palpable link between the mundane lives of ordinary people in central Pennsylvania and the often horrendous sacrifices endured by a world at war. “Surrender!” exposed how very distant decision-making can have very local and very lasting consequences, even though the actors in this real life drama were oceans away from any battlefield.

We want to thank all those folks who attended this captivating movie and acknowledge the wonderful staff at the Community Arts Center for their extraordinary efforts to make the premiere of “Surrender!” an overwhelming success.

Finally, as president of the Lycoming County Historical Society, I extend our heartfelt thanks to Martha and Steve Huddy for their incredible generosity in donating all proceeds from ticket sales to benefit the LCHS. As we move forward with our mission to “Make history come alive!”, we will strive to emulate the professional, educational and creative standards achieved by the Huddys and their film.

John B. Raymond


Lycoming County Historical Society

Submitted by E-Mail