By Samantha St. Marie
Andrew Cassarino ’18, is putting his stamp on Union in a historic way. Cassarino is the writer behind the history articles that have appeared in the Concordy in recent weeks, and he could not be more ready to continue to write.
“History,” Cassarino says, “is my greatest passion. It all started in second grade when we started learning about the presidents. To me, they were the real superheroes.”
Cassarino cannot help but smile when he talks about his passion for history. He is not just talk, either; he participates in Civil War reenactments every chance he gets, regularly purchases historic memorabilia and is constantly reading history books and writing about important historical events.
On Oct. 17, Cassarino accompanied his 11th grade history teacher, John Peterson, to Middletown, Va., to participate in a reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek. “It was incredible,” Cassarino exclaimed. “I went as a clerk to a sutler, who was a seller of goods hired by the army. There were over 6,000 reenactors, and the battle scenes were amazing to witness. It was like you were actually experiencing the Civil War in 1864.”
This is not the first reenactment Cassarino has attended. “I’ve been to Gettysburg, the Occupation of Yorktown and other, smaller events. Gettysburg was celebrating its 150th anniversary and had over 12,000 reenactors, which is the largest reenactment the hobby will likely ever see. Shivers were sent down my spine when I saw 6,000 rebels storm our Union line from the woods. We were informed by our captains that the soldiers from the South may actually try and attack so we should be ready for a fist-fight,” Cassarino recounted.
When I asked Cassarino if he ever feared for his life at these reenactments, he laughed and said, “No, but I was scared of some big, old guy taking a swing at me.”
Aside from reenacting the Civil War, Cassarino loves all things history and has been fulfilling his “civic duty of keeping the story of us alive” by writing for the Concordy. “I spend hours reading through the archives of the Concordy and other books about Union to write my pieces. It’s cool to see how students of certain eras reacted to major historic events.” Cassarino joked that he could really use his own copy of the Complete Encyclopedia of Union College.
I also asked Cassarino several personal questions about his favorites of American history.
“My favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt because he was a president that defined his time and was not defined by the time. He was a courageous man who grabbed life by the balls, and he is the only president who hunted (…) lions. And his big-stick diplomacy had a huge impact on the country and how foreign nations perceived the United States.”
He also revealed that if he could go back and live during a certain era, he would choose the 1920s. “The times were good and the fashion was even better. You might spot me around campus sporting a suit and bow tie like Nucky Thompson from ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ I probably would not have been a bootlegger (a seller of illegal alcohol during prohibition), but you never know.”
During our conversation Cassarino mentioned his vast collection of American history books. “I take pride in my library, which includes over 150 books. I probably have 30 on the Civil War alone and almost one book on each Founding Father.”
Clearly, Cassarino is a dedicated historian but is very modest and says he still has a lot left to learn — and he means a lot.
“There are so many great stories from our ancestors and I just want to make sure they are not forgotten,” Cassarino expressed. “If I can help even the slightest with telling their stories, then I feel like I’m doing a good deed. Also, it’s just downright fun!” Maybe we could all learn a little something from Andrew — follow your passions and explore more, because there is no limit to learning.