Let's reference all of this by first saying that I was a reenactor for 20 years. I started doing Civil War reenacting as a Confederate. I also did some Union reenacting. I ventured into the realm of WWII reenacting, and I loved every bit of it. I thought reenacting was great. We could spend ridiculous amounts of money on weapons, uniforms, and gear. We could research the folks we were trying to be, finding out such things as who they were, where they fought, how they fought, and why they fought, and we could justify it all in the name of history, remembrance, education, or whatever the appropriate catch phrase of the day was.
Only at a Civil War reenactment could find groups of men ogling a garment and analyzing stitch count, construction quality, fit, and sizing. Only at a reenactment could one find men spending $100 for a pair of pants because they had "the right look", and then dragging them through the mud to make them look better.
As I say, I've done it. I was there. I was one of them. I've spent a lot of money on things I didn't need, and I've always wanted more. I've read the books. I've watched the documentaries. I've done the research. I've driven the miles, and have gone to many states doing so. I've read the drill manuals. I've visited the battlefields. I've marched in the ranks and worn the uniforms. I've run out of ammo. I've burned myself on the weapons. I've slept on the ground. I've cooked over the campfire. I've been rained on, snowed on, stormed on, been in the wind, and have been outside in nearly every type of weather imaginable. I've been hot. I've been cold. I've been wet. I've sweated nearly to death, and frozen nearly to death. I've acted skits. I've done scripted events. I've laughed, moaned, groaned, cried, complain, been hurt, helped others who were hurt, ran out of ammo, ran out of water, ruined shoes, torn trousers, and had weapons malfunction. I've been victorious, I've been defeated. I've won tacticals. I've lost tacticals. I've seen fear in the faces of other reenactors who were being flanked. I've shown the same fear when I was flanked. I've slept under cannons, slept in the rain, slept on concrete, slept in frost, and slept in a bush in Gettysburg.
Does this make me a better person than anyone else? Of course not! Does this mean I've seen the elephant, and know what combat is really like? Not even close! Does this mean I can understand the mindset of the Civil War soldier or WWII GI or paratrooper? Nope!
What then does it mean. It means I've mastered the art of playing army. I've grown up without ever really growing up. I've played an expensive adult version of a childhood game.
That's what we'll explore in the next post. Bye for now!