Skip to main content

For Find Out Friday Week 7- What is the reason Southerners continue to Re-Enact the Civil War?


Have you ever wanted to be somebody else? Maybe just for a moment, a day, or even a lifetime?? It can be tempting especially on a bad day. Personally I know that I could stand being President just for a day or two so that I could take a ride on Air Force One and sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. I also wouldn’t mind being one of Lisa Vanderpump’s many pets as they live the glamorous good life in her mansion on the West Coast. Finally I truly wish I could blink my eyes and be a New York Times best-selling author. If I could click my heels three times I for sure would not go to Kansas under any circumstances but then again I don’t have my Auntie Em looking for me.

I think I can understand just about any person, object, or location you would want to be as long as you have a reason. I don’t need to understand or relate to that reason but as long as you know why you feel the way you feel I can sympathize. However there is one group I don’t think I could ever relate to.

Certainly if I had a day to spend as someone else I don’t think it would involve a war that ended over a hundred fifty years ago. This makes even less sense when you want to portray the side that lost. To me this seems more like an act of mental illness that role-playing. I was therefore determined to find out why and when Civil War re-enactors do what they do.

Surprisingly there is A LOT of material containing these phrases. But as I began to comb through them it was more rhetoric than an act of clarification. I was getting confused and sucked into a line of highly illogical thoughts. My favorite was whether the North really won the war?! I couldn’t bear more than a paragraph of that. I tried to follow the theory but got lost someplace when I “learned” that slavery was not the cause being fought over. I guess the epitaph over President Lincoln’s monument in D.C. is wrong.



Perhaps a healthy dose of denial is key factor creating the urge to re-enact? It makes more “sense” that way. At least there are reasons, even if they are delusional.

This statement and question was on Yahoo and I couldn’t love it more:

“I mean people from the South, do they realize that they lost? And why do they justify it by saying "There were some brave Southern soldiers fighting", well I am pretty sure there were some brave Nazis also, does Germany celebrate?”

When you put it like that re-enacting such a deadly war seems unfathomable. But imagine people impersonating Nazis? Could you envision the public outcry?



My personal interaction with re-enactments in my adult life has only occurred during the annual Battle of Brooklyn celebration at Greenwood Cemetery. I went in 2012 and had a blast. I even got my photo taken with one Benji Franklin. I can call him that because we are close. I have even been to his house in London, which was recently featured in episode of Mysteries of the Museum. In a six degrees of separation moment it was Don Wildman, the host of that show that got me hooked on events at Greenwood Cemetery in the first place.



The day of the battle re-enactment my father got his picture taken with a lady who was either Benjamin Franklin’s wife or mistress, I am assuming.

A second highlight from that day was watching the men on horseback in full retro gear fighting on the cemetery grounds (the battle proceeds the cemetery). I had taken the tour so I had already been to all of the spots in that area where the battle was fought and won. Greenwood Cemetery is truly a magical place. I could go on and on but I have already written two blogs about that place so see the links below for more of this tangent.

Re-enactments as far as I can tell started during the 1960’s. No matter where you are in this country you can look up the closest battle re-enactment going on and sign up. I couldn’t believe that I found more of those sites than ones dealing with the reasons behind it. Apparently the adage “ignorance is bliss” prevails.

“Folks like that are still on the battlefield, but lately, a more diverse group of people — with a broader understanding of Southern history — have begun to push reenactments toward deeper, truer purposes.” - S.E. Curtis

I would like to think this thesis is correct but it seems at best it is fifty percent old and fifty percent new age thinking.

For example consider this fact:

“In 2010, for instance, Texas school officials made the news by insisting that Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address be given equal prominence with Abraham Lincoln’s in that state’s social studies curriculum. The following year, Virginia school officials were chagrined to learn that one of their state-adopted textbooks was teaching fourth graders that thousands of loyal slaves took up arms for the confederacy.” - Tracy Thompson

Sometimes there are no words. I continue to reread that paragraph and each time it does not fail to amaze me.

The most coherent explanation I have found thus far to explain the re-enacting phenomenon was found on a website called Bitter Southerner, of all things. He may be bitter but he is also brilliant.

Paul Singleton III, an African-American art therapist and poet, said:

“By dressing up and taking part in battles and other historical events, re-enactors can work through the pain and loss their ancestors may have felt. White Southern re-enactors may feel oppressed and conquered because their Confederate ancestors lost the war. At worst, their families have had to suffer through not only defeat, but also Reconstruction and 150 years of socioeconomic hardship. So they use an aesthetic means in the present to examine this past in the hope of creating a different future. In their minds, they are the underdogs. Through this kind of performance, they are yearning for catharsis and a change in outlook.”

Waverly Byth Adcock added:

“We cannot pick our history,” he told the crowd. “In order for us to learn from our mistakes or triumphs, we must embrace the entire story of our past. The good and the bad, all of these things make us who we are today.”

I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s why my love of history is so strong and apparently why there remains to be Southern Civil War re-enactors.

Tag, you’re it followers!! The next Find Out Friday topic is on you. That means start twitting, emailing, or posting your suggestions. I want to know what you need to know.

For My Related Blogs:




For More Information:
















Comments

Popular posts from this blog

For Find Out Friday - Why Do Emery Boards Make My Skin Crawl?

You know that sound a fingernail makes when it scratches against a chalkboard?  You know that feeling the sound of that action gives you? I, like most people, hate that sound.  I instantly feel like scrunching my shoulders up to my neck and closing my eyes.  I feel the exact same way when I am using an emery board to file my nails. This annoying sensation has a name: “grima” which is Spanish for disgust or uneasiness. This term basically describes any feeling of being displeased, annoyed, or dissatisfied someone or something.  It is a feeling that psychologists are starting to pay more attention to as it relates to our other emotions.  Emery boards are traditionally made with cardboard that has small grains of sand adhered to them. It is the sandpaper that I believe makes me filled with grima.  According to studies that are being done around the world, it is not just the feeling that we associate with certain things like nails on a chalkboard or by using emery boards

For the Perfect Appetizer Dinner: “Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue”

Have you ever gone out to eat and wished that you just ordered a bunch of appetizers?  I have.  It is actually my preferred way to eat. I like to get a taste of a bunch of different things rather than one big plate. I am much more interested in the kinds of foods we eat as appetizers versus lunch or dinner. Desserts hardly ever register on my radar. At the beginning of this year, right before I was set to release my annual to do list , I stumbled upon a photo of the most beautiful plate of brisket nachos I have ever seen. I instantly wanted them. Naturally the establishment behind said nachos, Morgans Brooklyn Barbecue, earned a spot on my list. The week leading up to my visit all I could think about was “would those nachos be my entire meal or just my appetizer”? Sure I love all kinds of barbecue food: the ribs, the brisket, pulled pork, and don’t even get me started on those sides!! Any restaurant that serves mac and cheese, corn bread, and creamed spinach us

For Find Out Friday - How Do You Milk An Almond?

Despite my affinity for cheese and other dairy products, occasionally (actually a few times a week) I like to go dairy-free.  During those times I rely heavily on my favorite brand of almond milk, as seen in the picture above.  Though I know there is no dairy in this product, I constantly wonder: “how does one milk an almond”? Logically I am aware that no actually “milking” is taking place.  I also know that almond milk can be made at home, although I have zero interest in attempting to make it despite my love of spending time in my kitchen. So, what is the actual process?  How long does it take?  When / where / who was the first to successful develop this product? When talking about this kind of “milk” what we are really talking about is plant juices that resemble and can be used in the same ways as dairy milk. Plant like juice has been described as milk since about 1200 A.D. The first mentions can be found in a Baghdadi cookbook in the thirteenth