Magazine article America in WWII

Acting or Reenacting

Magazine article America in WWII

Acting or Reenacting

Article excerpt

NOT LONG AGO, I WAS VERY SKEPTICAL OF REENACTING. It was back in the days when I worked at a Civil War magazine, immersed daily in early 1860s history. Something about studying the Civil War makes some men want to dress head to toe in wool during the dog days of summer, sleep on the ground without cushioning, yell "huzzah" in unison, and march around in boots purposely made by a skilled craftsman to be uncomfortable.

I was not one of those men, and my leeriness about them piqued when one particular reenactor, the purest of the purists, gained renown in our little corner of the world for soaking his uniform buttons in urine to give them just the right patina. And it only got worse. During battle reenactments, he'd get "shot," fall on the field, and slowly puff up his cheeks to simulate the bloating of a fresh corpse. I thought of grownup Dungeons and Dragons fanatics dressing up in pseudo-medieval attire and venturing into caves and forests to pretend to slay goblins and ores with broadswords and wizard spells.

But not all reenactors are fanatical. Most of them do more to teach us about our past than to fulfill any sort of personal fantasy life. They study how people looked and acted in previous times, what they did and what they knew. Then they dress up and do their routine, demonstrating their equipment and wares, for the sake of anyone interested enough to watch. I've seen plenty of interesting examples of this at WWII history events. …

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