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Re-enactment travesty


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willysmb44

I did the Armed Forces Day event at Ft Lewis (I can't bring myself to call it by the official title of "Joint Base Lewis-McChord") today. I displayed my Ordnance Corps WW2 stuff and weapons, which went over well. Plenty of other display and re-enacting groups were there, a really diverse bunch of groups.

The public re-enactment had people representing - and I'm not kidding here - American Revolution, American Civil War, English Civil War, Spanish-American War, pirates (yeah, the "Arrr" type) and WW2 guys all fighting in the very same battle! We're talking about a 300-year span between all these eras! I've been to just about every type of re-enactment event there ever was, but this one took the cake... I couldn't bring myself to take photos of this travesty of a "re-enactment" although I now wish I had because few people would have believed it. :blink:

Granted, I have taken part in two "all eras" battles at large timeline events in years past, but each was done well after the public left as a joke event for the participants only, never done at the "prime time" in the middle of the day's public events!

Yeah, I get it was a joke thing done tongue in cheek, but in my book each of the people there have forever waived any right to say they "do this for the vets"... :thumbdown:

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kjones5452

Yes sir!! Very true everything you said.The worse part is the fact that no-way could they have given

the public the impression they were serious,no matter how hard they tried. I used to reenact and I

wouldn't even consider something like that.I'd be to embarrassed. Thats is one crying shame and has

probably hurt the hobby a little in that area.

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When I did reenact I avoided public events just because stuff like that was allowed to happen.

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Here in Florida, we've started to become more selective in when and where we do a public battle. Generally, we only do them if there's a defined "stage" area for the battle with a neutral or period-generic backdrop. We try to avoid "theater in the round", where we're getting photographed with Suburbans and Mazdas in the background. And we certainly try to avoid "mixed genres".

 

The reality is that public battles are what draw people to events. They are a necessary evil - they make good reason to have reenactors at an event for the event sponsor, and they make a good marketing tool for the event sponsor to the public. "You represent what history group? Sorry - we already have all the K98s, .50 cals, and Garands we need for a display right here at the museum. What? You can do a public battle? Hmmm. Ok, let's talk."

 

The only time I've seen a public battle done as a salute to vets was a reenacted dust-off for an air show. The whole thing was scripted and coordinated by 'Nam vets for 'Nam vets, complete with 4 different types of aircraft and pyro. The only thing we needed to provide was ourselves as GIs in the chopper and VC on the ground. The script was a bit over the top with "America! F Yeah!" but the crowd ate it up and we had front-row seats to a great fly-over. :)

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willysmb44

Twhigham, you're right, of course. The public wants to see popping caps, plain and simple. Just like the Civil War events, you get ten times the turnout from the public if they know you'll be shooting at one another v/s just a static display. I have no problems with the "battle of the baseball diamond" events even though I know they look silly to us. This, well, was something totally different than that.

I know at least one other member of this forum was there to see this, and I wouldn't be shocked if others from this forum were there as well.

My group was a display outfit that doesn't do "tacitcal" stuff at all, only display stuff. All of our guys and gals were either ignoring this event outright or haning by the outside fence looking in with wide eyes and slacked jaws as many of us (myself included) were having a hard time coming to terms with what we were seeing...

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That's one of the reasons I quit reenacting and started doing living history full time.

 

Scott

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The public re-enactment had people representing - and I'm not kidding here - American Revolution, American Civil War, English Civil War, Spanish-American War, pirates (yeah, the "Arrr" type) and WW2 guys all fighting in the very same battle! We're talking about a 300-year span between all these eras! I've been to just about every type of re-enactment event there ever was, but this one took the cake... I couldn't bring myself to take photos of this travesty of a "re-enactment" although I now wish I had because few people would have believed it. :blink:

 

 

Sounds more like something you would see at an Anime Convention....

 

No I take that back, they are much more careful about mixing genres....

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Unfortunatelyy I dislike these 'battle' things, even the same genre ones. They are just big boys playing soldiers to me. I have no problems with small 'battles' for a display but not the 'tactical' ones.

 

If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies.

 

Ps, spoken from 23 years in the Australian army.

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Unfortunatelyy I dislike these 'battle' things, even the same genre ones. They are just big boys playing soldiers to me. I have no problems with small 'battles' for a display but not the 'tactical' ones.

 

If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies.

 

Ps, spoken from 23 years in the Australian army.

 

 

Well Dave some of us either were in or STILL are. I got 26 years in the USAF and as I don't do the bang bang shoot 'em up I do living history for displays at airshows to show what the AAF ground crews did.

 

Scott

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Captainofthe7th

That really puts a bad name to reenactors. :dry: I am glad to be able to reenact, and do it correctly! I have never participated in a public battle, as they are usually cheesy even if it's Allies vs Axis. I prefer to play war at a private tactical event where accuracy is pivotal (we really do a good job with formations and tactics, etc.) or just do a static display. Unfortunately, because of these types that just like to shoot blanks for fun or to show off, a lot of people get a bad image of reenactors and what/why most of us do reenacting. I agree that being able to shoot at each other and participate in these 'live' battles is half the fun, but you still need to take it seriously!

 

Rob

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Rakkasan187

Since this is a forum where one can express feelings and opinions, I figured I would throw in my contribution to this. I have opted on several occasions to keep my mouth shut, but this really set off a nerve in me, and I want to vent... I have nothing against people who want to re-enact for the historical purposes, and I think that living history displays capture that quite well.... Enough said about that.....

 

Now I want to address those folks who want to run around in the woods shooting blanks at each other, and for lack of better terms I will use what Rob said and "play war using tactics and formations, where accuracy is pivotal". Thats great, more power to you, until someone is shooting back at you... So .....I'll tell you what... when you can come up with a way of experiencing your buddies arm or leg being blown off or seeing your best friend torn apart by an IED, having blood and tissue matter sprayed all over you ( and I'm not talking about ketchup or red dye to give it that "realistic affect for you weekend "re-enactors"), come talk to and spend some time with the real actors, who you claim to portray in your "weekend battles" I think you'll get a different idea of re-enacting and maybe you'll realize that you can play dead all you want in your reenactments, and then get up, brush yourself off and go to work Monday morning, but think about the Soldier's, Sailors, Airmen/Airwomen and Marines who are on the front lines day in and day out. They don't get to "Play War" or "Play Dead" They just get dead....PERIOD... No getting up, dusting yourself off etc... When a re-enactor can capture the emotions and physical and psychological factors of fear, anger, frustration, smell, sight, touch, pain, agony, dispair, humiliation, then maybe you'll be justified in "reenacting a battle"... Here's a thought.... Instead of spending a day running around the woods for "historical preservation and living history" Go to a veterans home, volunteer at a VA hospital, go to a veterans homeless shelter, serve food in a homeless kitchen....if you really want to help preserve history...

 

The real "Living History" is with the veterans who are sitting in VA homes, hospitals, ect.., wishing that someone would visit them and take some time to spend with them... No-one considers visting them to get their "Living History" accounts..., but instead the re-enactor in order to preserve history would rather run around in the woods firing blanks...

 

Memorial day is coming up in 8 days. The plans that my wife and I have include: Saturday placing US Flags at the National Cemetary at the gravesites of our heros, then visiting the VA home here in El Paso, Texas, and on Sunday our Church is having a Special Memorial Day Service for all. Monday for most will be another day off, an excuse to get drunk, or just another Holiday whose purpose has been long forgotten.....

 

I also want to reiterate what David Harvey stated in a previous post...

 

"If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies".

 

 

I want to apologize for my vent. It has been a long time since something has really angered me to the point where I wanted to express my feelings. Moderators, if you should feel that this post is inappropriate and is offensive in nature, by all means remove it. I am merely wanting to point out that for some of us veterans the loss of a friend can't be portrayed in a weekend re-enactment...

 

Thank you..

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Now I want to address those folks who want to run around in the woods shooting blanks at each other, and for lack of better terms I will use what Rob said and "play war using tactics and formations, where accuracy is pivotal". Thats great, more power to you, until someone is shooting back at you... So .....I'll tell you what... when you can come up with a way of experiencing your buddies arm or leg being blown off or seeing your best friend torn apart by an IED, having blood and tissue matter sprayed all over you ( and I'm not talking about ketchup or red dye to give it that "realistic affect for you weekend "re-enactors"), come talk to and spend some time with the real actors, who you claim to portray in your "weekend battles" I think you'll get a different idea of re-enacting and maybe you'll realize that you can play dead all you want in your reenactments, and then get up, brush yourself off and go to work Monday morning, but think about the Soldier's, Sailors, Airmen/Airwomen and Marines who are on the front lines day in and day out. They don't get to "Play War" or "Play Dead" They just get dead....PERIOD... No getting up, dusting yourself off etc... When a re-enactor can capture the emotions and physical and psychological factors of fear, anger, frustration, smell, sight, touch, pain, agony, dispair, humiliation, then maybe you'll be justified in "reenacting a battle"... Here's a thought.... Instead of spending a day running around the woods for "historical preservation and living history" Go to a veterans home, volunteer at a VA hospital, go to a veterans homeless shelter, serve food in a homeless kitchen....if you really want to help preserve history...

 

The real "Living History" is with the veterans who are sitting in VA homes, hospitals, ect.., wishing that someone would visit them and take some time to spend with them... No-one considers visting them to get their "Living History" accounts..., but instead the re-enactor in order to preserve history would rather run around in the woods firing blanks...

 

Memorial day is coming up in 8 days. The plans that my wife and I have include: Saturday placing US Flags at the National Cemetary at the gravesites of our heros, then visiting the VA home here in El Paso, Texas, and on Sunday our Church is having a Special Memorial Day Service for all. Monday for most will be another day off, an excuse to get drunk, or just another Holiday whose purpose has been long forgotten.....

 

I also want to reiterate what David Harvey stated in a previous post...

 

"If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies".

I want to apologize for my vent. It has been a long time since something has really angered me to the point where I wanted to express my feelings. Moderators, if you should feel that this post is inappropriate and is offensive in nature, by all means remove it. I am merely wanting to point out that for some of us veterans the loss of a friend can't be portrayed in a weekend re-enactment...

 

Thank you..

 

 

Some of those very reenactors you rail against do the very things you suggest they do such as visiting veterans, decorating graves in private and military cemeteries and help veterans in other ways such as assisting the VFW and American Legion with their projects . Don't judge all by the few who participate in a hobby you do not like.

 

Many of the reenactors you criticize are veterans just as you are with similar experiences as you have had. The reenactors I know are nearly all veterans most having served in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. You are not the only one that has played that "game".

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The reason I do USAAF ground crew living history is because after doing one display and seeing the reaction from ground crews, their families AND aircrews we had to keep going and improve. We do this for the forgotten ground crews and all who know and knew them. And after being a crew chief and aircraft electrician for 26 years it made sense.

 

Scott

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Since this is a forum where one can express feelings and opinions, I figured I would throw in my contribution to this. I have opted on several occasions to keep my mouth shut, but this really set off a nerve in me, and I want to vent... I have nothing against people who want to re-enact for the historical purposes, and I think that living history displays capture that quite well.... Enough said about that.....

 

Now I want to address those folks who want to run around in the woods shooting blanks at each other, and for lack of better terms I will use what Rob said and "play war using tactics and formations, where accuracy is pivotal". Thats great, more power to you, until someone is shooting back at you... So .....I'll tell you what... when you can come up with a way of experiencing your buddies arm or leg being blown off or seeing your best friend torn apart by an IED, having blood and tissue matter sprayed all over you ( and I'm not talking about ketchup or red dye to give it that "realistic affect for you weekend "re-enactors"), come talk to and spend some time with the real actors, who you claim to portray in your "weekend battles" I think you'll get a different idea of re-enacting and maybe you'll realize that you can play dead all you want in your reenactments, and then get up, brush yourself off and go to work Monday morning, but think about the Soldier's, Sailors, Airmen/Airwomen and Marines who are on the front lines day in and day out. They don't get to "Play War" or "Play Dead" They just get dead....PERIOD... No getting up, dusting yourself off etc... When a re-enactor can capture the emotions and physical and psychological factors of fear, anger, frustration, smell, sight, touch, pain, agony, dispair, humiliation, then maybe you'll be justified in "reenacting a battle"... Here's a thought.... Instead of spending a day running around the woods for "historical preservation and living history" Go to a veterans home, volunteer at a VA hospital, go to a veterans homeless shelter, serve food in a homeless kitchen....if you really want to help preserve history...

 

The real "Living History" is with the veterans who are sitting in VA homes, hospitals, ect.., wishing that someone would visit them and take some time to spend with them... No-one considers visting them to get their "Living History" accounts..., but instead the re-enactor in order to preserve history would rather run around in the woods firing blanks...

 

Memorial day is coming up in 8 days. The plans that my wife and I have include: Saturday placing US Flags at the National Cemetary at the gravesites of our heros, then visiting the VA home here in El Paso, Texas, and on Sunday our Church is having a Special Memorial Day Service for all. Monday for most will be another day off, an excuse to get drunk, or just another Holiday whose purpose has been long forgotten.....

 

I also want to reiterate what David Harvey stated in a previous post...

 

"If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies".

I want to apologize for my vent. It has been a long time since something has really angered me to the point where I wanted to express my feelings. Moderators, if you should feel that this post is inappropriate and is offensive in nature, by all means remove it. I am merely wanting to point out that for some of us veterans the loss of a friend can't be portrayed in a weekend re-enactment...

 

Thank you..

 

 

 

Well said and articulately expressed! About time someone stuck their head above the proverbial parapet! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

 

Sabrejet

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Leigh,

 

I SALUTE YOU !! :salute:

 

Those of US who have BEEN THERE and have FOUGHT, BLED, and SURVIVED need not "PLAY WAR" as the BOYS do, for WE know the GAME IS FOR REAL!!

 

 

Adam

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Sorry...i don't see any WWII veterans here...

 

That is a silly comment, I apologize, but I only do WWII...

 

I also respect all veterans, wotever conflict, and I never served, not because I was scared to, not just because I have asthma, but more because I wasn't prepared for some fresh out of Eaton "Rupert", chinless wonder, hoorahh Hendry telling me where to die...

 

I nearly joined up for the Falklands show, kinda glad I didn't, then again, wish I had, because it would/might have given me some feel for the horrors you guys went thru...

 

But, I might have been dead, or mental and in an institution for the rest of my life...Or "re-enacting" another conflict/my time in the Army/another conflict/My time in the Army..."oh gawd, I can't make up my mind"...>Ye get the picture...

 

That I can, or should I say, have the choice to be able to play at soldiers, I thank not you, but the veterans of WWII who stopped the Nazi's from attacking these shores of the UK...

 

Be that as it may...

 

 

I really want to know what "re-enacting" means....

 

Does it mean, like the film industry says, dressing up and "RE-enacting" an actual historical event, or just, as it has come to be known as simply dressing up in some auld army clothes and running around a field all day going bang bang, or sleeping in a trench in the cold and wet (wot for??), dressing up and going to the local 1940s dance, or pitching yer tent and cookong dinner for the lads (as I now do)?

 

Nahh, I dunno...I know that I have lived there, where the battles have taken place, I do know that dressing up in some field in merry old blighty or accross the pond is not "re-enacting" anything except perhaps doing the same thing ye done the year before in the same field...

 

I don't do pantomime, public battles, but I do know one WWII veteran that told me he done that whilst still serving (putting on public battles for entertainment), I...I knew one WWII veteran who had done private battles...I knew another who done public ones too...All three had served in Italy, in the Casino area...

I know the British Army done a mock "battle" on the 1st anniversary of Waterloo (and man, was that farby)...

 

But I don't think they are a joke for nothing, I think they are a joke, well, because they unrehearsed, and end up just being an excuse for grown up guys to play at bang bang and not putting on a professional piece of theatre for a paying publics entertainment, much like a fillm is...

 

And having worked briefly in the film industry and in live theatre close combat battle scenes, that, is the crux for me....

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shrapneldude

I'm gonna side with Leigh on this one. It's a free country, here in the US anyway, and each of us is free to do what we want...but making this argument that the dress-up shows is done for the vets is a pretty thin excuse most of the time. I go to the local VA medical center for treatment for my hand and whatnot several times a month, and always make it a point to try and get one of the old timers talking. There's no shortage of them sitting out front enjoying the weather, or sitting around inside. Some of them don't want to talk, or don't want to talk about their wartime experiences, but plenty of them do want to talk and are very happy to have someone listen to them. It's my experience that the standard reenactor does in fact know MORE about the specifics relating to uniforms, tactics, dates, etc of WWII than the average veteran...but that veteran can tell you exactly what it was like to charge off a landing craft onto a beach under fire, or how awesome it was to see artillery guns firing in the distance at their enemies ahead of them. A reenactor, however accurate, cannot, and for this reason alone, it's never made much sense to me why there seems to be so much in-fighting amongst them. Questioning eachother's motivations and methods and such when none of them can or will ever "get it" even if they are currently serving or were veterans of a later conflict doesn't seem to advance the cause much. The "public" in general will gravitate towards the shoot'emup style events moreso than a monotone middle-aged real estate agent describing all the different types of buckles that were used on various pieces of equipment in the Pacific. There's no avoiding that plain and simple fact...action sells, learning doesn't. So then...you're clearly never going to get it completely accurate, you're not helping anyone with the nitpicking eachother, and despite all statements of "doing it for the veterans" and so forth, the popularity of private events vs. public events suggests that it is done for personal enjoyment rather than honoring or teaching. There's nothing wrong with that at all, if it's your thing, but I guess I just don't get the culture of reenacting.

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ClaptonIsGod

To add on to the comments about talking to veterans and what Dan said, if you are going to, one thing to avoid is asking them about their equipment. Asking them about their type of canteen/cover, helmet (as much as that one hurts! :lol: ), rucksack, uniform or things like that is really rather petty in comparison to learning and asking about the experiences these guys had while fighting. Who cares about the equipment? People will know about it perhaps ad infinitum, but these veterans are unfortunately passing away at a pretty fast rate. The stuff, or at least photos and books, will be around forever. The veterans who actually fought, unfortunately not. Perhaps one or two questions is OK, but an interview shouldn't be based on their equipment :lol: .

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I would like to reiterate that I do not have any problems with re-enacting, or whatever the new buzz word is these days, but I DO have a problem with the 'tactical' battles to which no-one other than other reenactors go to. A set piece, rehearsed 'battle' for a public display is one thing, having a private play battle in the forests is a different kettle of fish!

 

I have done re-enacting previously and will hopefully do it again when I have time (a 2year old daughter and Army life leave little free time). But I can't see myself ever participating in a play battle as I have seen on youtube. But, each to their own I suppose.

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Captainofthe7th
Since this is a forum where one can express feelings and opinions, I figured I would throw in my contribution to this. I have opted on several occasions to keep my mouth shut, but this really set off a nerve in me, and I want to vent... I have nothing against people who want to re-enact for the historical purposes, and I think that living history displays capture that quite well.... Enough said about that.....

 

Now I want to address those folks who want to run around in the woods shooting blanks at each other, and for lack of better terms I will use what Rob said and "play war using tactics and formations, where accuracy is pivotal". Thats great, more power to you, until someone is shooting back at you... So .....I'll tell you what... when you can come up with a way of experiencing your buddies arm or leg being blown off or seeing your best friend torn apart by an IED, having blood and tissue matter sprayed all over you ( and I'm not talking about ketchup or red dye to give it that "realistic affect for you weekend "re-enactors"), come talk to and spend some time with the real actors, who you claim to portray in your "weekend battles" I think you'll get a different idea of re-enacting and maybe you'll realize that you can play dead all you want in your reenactments, and then get up, brush yourself off and go to work Monday morning, but think about the Soldier's, Sailors, Airmen/Airwomen and Marines who are on the front lines day in and day out. They don't get to "Play War" or "Play Dead" They just get dead....PERIOD... No getting up, dusting yourself off etc... When a re-enactor can capture the emotions and physical and psychological factors of fear, anger, frustration, smell, sight, touch, pain, agony, dispair, humiliation, then maybe you'll be justified in "reenacting a battle"... Here's a thought.... Instead of spending a day running around the woods for "historical preservation and living history" Go to a veterans home, volunteer at a VA hospital, go to a veterans homeless shelter, serve food in a homeless kitchen....if you really want to help preserve history...

 

The real "Living History" is with the veterans who are sitting in VA homes, hospitals, ect.., wishing that someone would visit them and take some time to spend with them... No-one considers visting them to get their "Living History" accounts..., but instead the re-enactor in order to preserve history would rather run around in the woods firing blanks...

 

Memorial day is coming up in 8 days. The plans that my wife and I have include: Saturday placing US Flags at the National Cemetary at the gravesites of our heros, then visiting the VA home here in El Paso, Texas, and on Sunday our Church is having a Special Memorial Day Service for all. Monday for most will be another day off, an excuse to get drunk, or just another Holiday whose purpose has been long forgotten.....

 

I also want to reiterate what David Harvey stated in a previous post...

 

"If folks want to play soldiers then join the army and do it for real. Reenactment is to show a recreaction of history, not for big boys to get their hollies".

I want to apologize for my vent. It has been a long time since something has really angered me to the point where I wanted to express my feelings. Moderators, if you should feel that this post is inappropriate and is offensive in nature, by all means remove it. I am merely wanting to point out that for some of us veterans the loss of a friend can't be portrayed in a weekend re-enactment...

 

Thank you..

 

Leigh-

 

I will admit, I do reenacting because I enjoy it. It is also my chance to experience a recreation of history. That's no BS. I try not to be ignorant about it and I am not just some hooligan running around in the woods on weekends.

 

Two summers ago I volunteered a few times a week at a local nursing home to visit with veterans. Keep in mind this is when all of my friends had real, paying jobs. I did this because I wanted to visit these veterans because I truly appreciate them. I still go back occasionally when I can to visit and talk to the residents. I have notebooks full of their histories. I even tried to get involved at the local VA home in Boston, but they never got back to me. I also recently visited the CT Vets home here in Rocky Hill and submitted a design proposal for a new State Veterans Memorial on the site. It was a lot of work to get it done, but hopefully if I win the competition I will have created a long standing monument to honor all of Connecticut's veterans, past, present, and future.

 

My memorial day plans? Play taps wearing my grandfather's uniform in my hometown and then visit him where he is buried. I will probably clean off the other veteran's markers throughout the cemetery.

 

I try my best.

 

Rob

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willysmb44
That really puts a bad name to reenactors. :dry: I am glad to be able to reenact, and do it correctly! I have never participated in a public battle, as they are usually cheesy even if it's Allies vs Axis. I prefer to play war at a private tactical event where accuracy is pivotal (we really do a good job with formations and tactics, etc.) or just do a static display. Unfortunately, because of these types that just like to shoot blanks for fun or to show off, a lot of people get a bad image of reenactors and what/why most of us do reenacting. I agree that being able to shoot at each other and participate in these 'live' battles is half the fun, but you still need to take it seriously!
I get your point, but as I’ve re-enacted public and private events off and on since the 80s, I can honestly say they’re almost the same in regards to the cheese factor. I will agree that the public ones usually have an excess of Velveeta, but often private events can be equally comical (although participants will rarely ever admit to it). The thing about public events that makes people cringe often is the extremely small areas they take place in and usually lacking any forms of cover and concealment as well as a lack of area to show any real maneuvering in. Also, public events have the potential to show off the things private event can’t (like casualty evacuation, handling of prisoners, little vignette stuff like that) but they hardly ever do.

I don’t have issues with public events at all, quite the contrary. I feel there’s a general hypocrisy about many in the hobby refusing to do public events when they can often be almost as comical as the private ones and you’ve again totally lost the “we do it to honor the vets” argument (a closed to the public event doesn’t honor ANYONE other than the participants).

But this specific event was downright embarrassing no matter how you look at it.

Many of the reenactors you criticize are veterans just as you are with similar experiences as you have had. The reenactors I know are nearly all veterans most having served in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. You are not the only one that has played that "game".
Too true. I should have expected this to regress to a argument on if re-enacting should even exist (I will never understand why people who hate re-enacting look in forums devoted to it). It’s so easy to just assume that people into this are just a bunch of “wanna-bes” when in fact, it’s just not that simple. Plenty of vets do this as a pastime. At the event, I got four names from current combat vets who came by our displays asking how they can get into it, all looking to these tactical re-enactment groups. At an event in Fort Benning in 1994, I was right alongside someone who’d been part of the “Blackhawk Down” mission and was a member of Task Force Ranger in that terrible battle. Between popping at “Germans” he’d tell us stories about running down alleys parallel to the crowds to get to one of the crash sites. To this day I wish I’d written the guy’s name down. When I was active duty, I must admit I enjoyed them at that time as well, knowing I didn’t have to be responsible for everything that happened as an officer, and could just go to “Joe Snuffy” mode and not have to stress about everything for a change.

We have several combat vets from various conflicts (including a 28th Division vet who was a POW in WW2) in our own group. One guy has been to the sandbox with an infantry unit and loves doing these WW2 events as well. But as I’d written earlier, our group doesn’t do tactical events and do displays only. Still, I know there’s really very little difference between us and the tactical folks.

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mpguy80/08

Three of my unit and a few others just did a living history display for an event in Middletown Ohio called Troop Aid. Setting aside the problems people had with some of the organizers, nothing but glowing praise has been heard so far for the living history display we had set up which consisted of a WWII campsite display for the 82nd ABN and 36th INF divisions, a Mobile Kitchen Trailer (MKT), and an M-706/V-100 Armored Car. My thanks go out to the professionals who helped me make our part of the event a total success. To put it lightly, we really wow'd 'em. My undying grattitude to Rich, Alan, Alan, Tom, and Joe and the helpers who came along to help set up. Thanks guys...

 

You can set up a display, but the essential truth is that you must KNOW the history you are trying to protray in your display. Anything else is just a table full of old equipment to the unknowledgeable. More than once, I had people come up and ask me if I were selling the items I was displaying, but most were truly captivated that someone in this day and age would be so knowing of the history of those who came before us. Sure, there were kids who thought they knew everything because they played call to duty on the X box... to them, I knelt down to put myself on their level, and as sterile as I could, explained the difference between real war and their games. More than one kid left with a pale face... more than one parent left with a nod and a knowing smile... content that I'd gone to the extra length to urge the kids to learn the history behind the games they play, and not be so eager to play the war game for real.

 

I served for twenty eight years doing the real thing... I reenact and do living history displays now because I still have knowledge I can impart to others. I spent my time in the military teaching as a leader... I missed the esprit de corps and camaraderie of being on active duty... now, I share a like hobby with others like me, who miss the company of brothers in arms. We have one guy in our unit that hasn't served in the military... but I will say that having been exposed to we who have has given him that glimpse into that world, and he is one of the most knowledgeable of us for our impression. Maybe some do just do this to run around in the woods and get their jollies... but the majority of those I knew in the reenacting community strive to present a good impression, and attempt to learn from reenacting battles of past wars. THAT is why I do it. I always have room to learn something new, and love to help others come to that same conclusion. To learn the history of those heroic soldiers who have fought in our past wars.

 

Wayne

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Interesting to see how opinions can be polarised by this one. Before I add mine, let me declare that I'm an experienced collector and not a re-enactor. I don't have a problem with living history groups who set up their dioramas to educate the public and to display the various artefacts in realistic settings etc. I've spent many interesting hours in the past talking to such people and admiring the detail and effort they put into their re-creations, whether it's a bivouac, weapons pit or vehicle-based etc.

 

However.....I do have a problem with the kind of thing I've frequently seen as a passive observer at hangar dances, namely guys dressed up in Class As in a rank of their choice, festooned with awards and decorations, be they G.Is, British "Tommies"...or Nazis! I firmly believe that one should not wear the uniform, insignia and decorations unless one is entiltled to do so, and I'd guess that 99% of the guys who do this are not!

 

I'm not trying to be a party-pooper here. I know that many of the uniforms are historically accurate re-creations ( though some patently aren't!!) but it just brings it down to the level of "fancy dress"...in my humble opinion. I recall one guy who was dressed as an Lt of US Special Forces, VN War era...just like the De Niro character from "The Deer Hunter". The uniform and insignia were spot-on and he really looked the biz...until he opened his mouth and a northern English accent emerged! But what irked me most of all was the way that he..and others like him..seem to "swagger" around as though they really are these "heroes" they pretend to be. Know what I mean?!

 

Sabrejet :pinch:

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