Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Appomattox Co., VA - A meeting between Confederate and Union soldiers in Appomattox 147 years ago marked the beginning of the end of the American Civil War.
The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park marked the anniversary with some special events Monday. It kicked off its living history program, printed parole passes (like ones given to the soldiers) and at the exact hour on the exact day Lee surrendered -- park rangers discussed the significance of the day.
Inside the McLean House, on April 9, 1865, a meeting between Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant marked the end of the bloodiest war on American soil.
"From 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. they talked about non-surrender related items, the surrender itself and they wrote out the terms in a form of letters," explained Ranger Ernie Price of the meeting.
Roger Rudder's great, great, grandfather was among the 28,000 Confederate soldiers who surrendered at Appomattox.
"It's indescribable to think about what they endured the last week coming into Appomattox," Rudders said, after touring the historic villages.
What followed the surrender answered a big question, says Price -- could this nation survive a civil war?
"And the answer, was yes," he added.
Each soldier was handed a parole pass -- serving as a meal ticket and free ride home.
"They were printed right here in the Clover Hill Tavern, on a print press just like this one," one of the park rangers said, pointing to a historic printing press brought out for the anniversary.
Kevin Wilhelm just so happened to bring his grand daughter on the 147th anniversary of the surrender.
"It makes it come alive and it's better than reading it in a history book," said 4th-grader Grayson Shields.
The national park service, town and county officials will spend the next three years getting ready for the biggest anniversary of all -- the Sesquicentennial -- expected to bring thousands of tourists to the area.
"We recognize here at the Park that in all of our careers, that's gonna be the biggest moment that we have here," said Price.