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Re-enactment travesty


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I started a very,very long pointed counter rant.I erased it all,because I realized that the opinions and viewpoints of reenactor detractors does not matter to me.The vets my unit honors and represent,get it. Their opinions,their viewpoints,their expectations and their respect is all that matters.I need not enumerate what my brethren and I do to honor them,the vets know and appreciate it.They actually support and respect us,as we do them.They have and do come to tacticals with us and have hosted some.

As to the original post,it's entertainment and not educational,everyone including most vets understand this and know that it's for fun and not for honoring them.....they really know when we are doing honoring.The whole reenacting thing is manifold and multi-faceted,not just a dry withered history lesson.....sometimes you need a teaser to sneak the learning in on them!

Sparrow

 

P.S. As Sgt. Hulka said "Lighten up Francis"

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Here's a thing....To be entitled to, or be able to drive a Harley, or a Triumph Chopper, would you have had to have been a member of say, the Hell's Angels?...No....I hope that get's the point accross...

 

Also, people laughing at private battles and/because they have "done the real thing", I have it on good authority that the British Army in at least one exercise they done, they ran out of blanks, yes, blanks folks, and had to run around going "BANG" to each other....

 

Think on that when ye ridicule.... :thumbdown:

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"Here's a thing....To be entitled to, or be able to drive a Harley, or a Triumph Chopper, would you have had to have been a member of say, the Hell's Angels?...No....I hope that get's the point accross..."

 

If this fatuous statement is your basis for defending the right of un-entitled persons to wear military uniforms with all of their related insignia and decorations etc. then for you the argument is lost I fear!

 

Q.E.D.

 

Sabrejet

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Captainofthe7th

There is nothing wrong with wearing these old uniforms if the wearers don't claim to have earned them (I also stay away from valor awards and Purple Hearts). Obviously, there is no way I could have earned awards from 65 or 50 years ago. I wear these uniforms with honor and I do it tastefully. I have never had a vet from the era get after me for wearing an original uniform. I have met many veterans through reenacting and continue to stay in touch with them. They ask me to do displays and march in parades as a representation of what they looked like way back when. Most often I only wear my grandfather's uniform, which does in fact have a Combat Infantry Badge. I haven't seen what it takes to earn it, I don't KNOW what it took to earn it, but I have the utmost respect for it because I have heard his stories, and I am in no way disrespecting him by wearing it.

 

I know I am saying 'I' a lot - I am not taking any of this personally, I am just giving an example of what I do because I think it is okay. I belong to a group that has rules and respect. In reenacting, we are really some of the good guys. I'm just an example of a number of members of our group.

 

Let me ask this - how do you feel about the actors who portray individuals like Dick Winters in BoB? Is it easier to justify their actions when they are doing the same thing reenactors do? Keep in mind that most of the extras in these movies are reenactors...are they more honorable than the rest of us?

 

I don't intend to make any enemies here...I'd just like to justify healthy reenacting.

 

Rob

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You can't compare yourself /selves with professional actors who are just doing a job. You're missing the point. I'm talking about the guys (and there are many) who live in "Walter Mitty land" and dress in uniform to live out their military fantasies, which, as I've said in an earlier post, reduces the whole thing to no more than fancy dress...and discredits the genuine living history re-enactors who are not glorifying war nor playing "G.I.Joe"! During WW2, US paratroopers used to get rather "upset" if they encountered straight-legs wearing jump-boots to which they were not entitled. Said boots tended to be forcibly removed! If I was a serving...or ex-soldier, and I happened upon a "weekend warrior" be-decked like General Patton I think I too would feel much like the paratroopers did! Just my 0.2's worth.

 

Sabrejet

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Captainofthe7th
You can't compare yourself /selves with professional actors who are just doing a job.

 

Could I say I'm doing volunteer work? :think:

 

I think the debate will go on forever...there will always be those of us who advocate reenacting and those of us who do not approve. I do see both sides, honest. However, it is something that a lot of us enjoy and I would just like to defend that the best I can. I know I won't change anyone's opinion, but I hope there's a chance where I can lead to some understanding as to why a lot of reenacting is not all bad.

 

Thanks for bearing with me, anyway.

 

Rob

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"Here's a thing....To be entitled to, or be able to drive a Harley, or a Triumph Chopper, would you have had to have been a member of say, the Hell's Angels?...No....I hope that get's the point accross..."

 

If this fatuous statement is your basis for defending the right of un-entitled persons to wear military uniforms with all of their related insignia and decorations etc. then for you the argument is lost I fear!

 

Q.E.D.

 

Sabrejet

 

One of my pet hates is "presumption"...I can't see anywhere in my post where I condone wearing awards for valour...

 

And as one FSSF veteran said to me regarding uniforms and SSI (OF WWII)... "They are in the public domain...but as long as you wear them with integrity, I have no problem"...I do try to do that, and BTW, i never wear awards for valour that I am not entitled to wear... :thumbsup:

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shrapneldude

I don't necessarily like how so many of these debates become an argument for and against reenacting. Many veterans do not agree with it, and many non-veterans will use any tenuous link they can to justify it. The fact of the matter is, reenactors do it for their own personal enjoyment, and much like collecting, it is an entirely selfish act. The reasons given "to honor the veterans" and so forth are all great, and I'm certain they are a part of why so many of these guys do it, but the underlying reason will be because they enjoy doing it. If they didn't, they'd be doing something else with their free time. The motorcycle debate / excuse, to me, is completely without merit. Anyone can buy a motorcycle. The argument could be made that wearing a leather vest with the Hell's Angel's insignia on the back is very much akin to a civilian non-veteran wearing medals and ribbons he doesn't rate. In each group, these are honors which must be earned, and a certain amount of respect and admiration automatically goes to those who have earned the right to be so decorated. Hell's angels patches are granted by charter club members, and military medals and decorations are given by the federal government.

 

ANYHOW...what this all seems to come down to at the end of the day is that regardless of what people think of what reenactors do, they are going to continue to do it. The central theme of this post was a group of reenactors losing the "right to say they do this for the vets." as a result of a particularly unrealistic battle. I contend that NONE of them do it solely "for the vets" because there are hundreds of other ways to express gratitude to veterans that don't involve elaborate battle scenarios and thousand-dollar costumes...this opinion is further strengthened by the "I don't do public battles" crowd within reenacting who don't seem to have any interest in teaching any member of the non-military nut public, they'd prefer to do their own thing with like-minded people. The tone of this isn't to dismiss it as "wannabeism" or anything of the sort, but this "for the vets" business, and the fact that the "for the vets" mentality is routinely used by reenactors and against other reenactors as to who can be the best fake soldier is kind of silly all the way around. I collect old Marine Corps stuff because I like it, it looks cool, and Marine stuff is a bit more personal to me than Air Force stuff. Does it honor the vets? Maybe...other vets seem to like it when I show them the stuff, but it's not my sole motivation for hoarding the stuff. Why is it so difficult for any reenactor to say they reenact because they get a kick out of wearing the uniforms, popping caps, and whatnot.

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I don't necessarily like how so many of these debates become an argument for and against reenacting. Many veterans do not agree with it, and many non-veterans will use any tenuous link they can to justify it. The fact of the matter is, reenactors do it for their own personal enjoyment, and much like collecting, it is an entirely selfish act. The reasons given "to honor the veterans" and so forth are all great, and I'm certain they are a part of why so many of these guys do it, but the underlying reason will be because they enjoy doing it. If they didn't, they'd be doing something else with their free time. The motorcycle debate / excuse, to me, is completely without merit. Anyone can buy a motorcycle. The argument could be made that wearing a leather vest with the Hell's Angel's insignia on the back is very much akin to a civilian non-veteran wearing medals and ribbons he doesn't rate. In each group, these are honors which must be earned, and a certain amount of respect and admiration automatically goes to those who have earned the right to be so decorated. Hell's angels patches are granted by charter club members, and military medals and decorations are given by the federal government.

 

ANYHOW...what this all seems to come down to at the end of the day is that regardless of what people think of what reenactors do, they are going to continue to do it. The central theme of this post was a group of reenactors losing the "right to say they do this for the vets." as a result of a particularly unrealistic battle. I contend that NONE of them do it solely "for the vets" because there are hundreds of other ways to express gratitude to veterans that don't involve elaborate battle scenarios and thousand-dollar costumes...this opinion is further strengthened by the "I don't do public battles" crowd within reenacting who don't seem to have any interest in teaching any member of the non-military nut public, they'd prefer to do their own thing with like-minded people. The tone of this isn't to dismiss it as "wannabeism" or anything of the sort, but this "for the vets" business, and the fact that the "for the vets" mentality is routinely used by reenactors and against other reenactors as to who can be the best fake soldier is kind of silly all the way around. I collect old Marine Corps stuff because I like it, it looks cool, and Marine stuff is a bit more personal to me than Air Force stuff. Does it honor the vets? Maybe...other vets seem to like it when I show them the stuff, but it's not my sole motivation for hoarding the stuff. Why is it so difficult for any reenactor to say they reenact because they get a kick out of wearing the uniforms, popping caps, and whatnot.

 

 

One I don't wear a "costume" I wear a uniform, I too have been in and I AM in the Air Force, I use to collect airborne items and just got tired of know it alls telling me what I had when many things they had no clue on. I DO ground crew living history ONE to honor the ground crews who busted their butts getting airplanes in the air, and two, because after crewing airplanes for 26 years I love props more than jets, so yes I am kinda selfish in as I get to play with airplanes. We are in cahoots with the Collings foundation and help them when they are here and on their bomber camp, so I AM doing a service BUT I don't get paid as like being in the military I LOVE IT. O.K now I am done explaining MY part.

 

Scott

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shrapneldude
One I don't wear a "costume" I wear a uniform, I too have been in and I AM in the Air Force, I use to collect airborne items and just got tired of know it alls telling me what I had when many things they had no clue on. I DO ground crew living history ONE to honor the ground crews who busted their butts getting airplanes in the air, and two, because after crewing airplanes for 26 years I love props more than jets, so yes I am kinda selfish in as I get to play with airplanes. We are in cahoots with the Collings foundation and help them when they are here and on their bomber camp, so I AM doing a service BUT I don't get paid as like being in the military I LOVE IT. O.K now I am done explaining MY part.

 

Scott

 

Thanks for your service to the country. But...the uniform you wear to work and on deployments is a UNIFORM, the uniform you wear when you dress up like a WWII aircrew man is a COSTUME:

cos·tume (kstm, -tym)

n.

1. A style of dress, including garments, accessories, and hairstyle, especially as characteristic of a particular country, period, or people.

2. An outfit or a disguise worn on Mardi Gras, Halloween, or similar occasions.

3. A set of clothes appropriate for a particular occasion or season

 

uniform [ˈjuːnɪˌfɔːm]

n

1. (Clothing & Fashion) a prescribed identifying set of clothes for the members of an organization, such as soldiers or schoolchildren

2. (Clothing & Fashion) a single set of such clothes

3. (Clothing & Fashion) a characteristic feature or fashion of some class or group

 

The UNIFORM you wear in the Air Force, much like the uniform I wore in the Marine Corps is a prescribed set of clothes to identify you as an active member of the US military. The Costume you wear on weekends is a disguise, to give the appearance of a WWII era Air Crew member, which you are not.

 

I have NO other objections with your motives, activities, etc, and don't want to give the impression that I don't respect your service to the country or anything else. However...the issue you raised with Costume vs. Uniform is one that's been raised before, and this is my response to that statement. You reenact because you enjoy it. You serve in the Air Force because it's your job...you signed a contract, and if you didn't show up to your appointed place of duty in the directed uniform of the day, you would be charged with UA or desertion. Since, however, this is NOT 1944, and we are NOT at war with the Axis nations, the comparison of current active duty service to reenacting is very difficult to make sense of. It doesn't matter if you're a 5-time combat vet, a peacetime admin clerk, or never served at all, if you're into WWII reenacting, and that's your thing, great, but the bottom line is all of you do it because you enjoy it, not because anyone has any specific patriotic duty to reenact and dress up like soldiers of bygone eras.

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All I have to say is I do GROUND CREW NOT AIRCREW. After 26 years dealing with pilots and primadonna aircrews I do this to honor my fellow ground crew who dealt with a lot more than I did. Also Ye I do belong to an organization and I enlisted out of duty (in my opinion) not as a job or to go to college. I guess we will agree to disagree.

 

 

Scott

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ClaptonIsGod

I think it's getting a bit beyond the point of civil discussion and now to more of an argument. Can we step back a minute?

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I don't beleive anyone who has commented at this stage is AGAINST re-enacting per se, I just think that the majority don't beleive that all who do it have the right motives. Enjoying re-enacting is ok to me, doing it to honour veterans is ok as well - doing it to carry out your fanatasies of military glory is not. The ones that bedeck themselves with heaps of 'bling' are not being honest to themselves or anyone else. I also, as stated earlier, do not beleive that carrying out private 'battles' is living history, re-enactment or anything along those lines - it is just fantasy. Doint staged battles for public display so the public get an IDEA of what happened during the time being portayed is ok to me, carrying out practices to enable these displays to occur safely is also ok to ME. Note the ME, I do not speak for anyone else.

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willysmb44
I can agree with what Dan says. :)
Yes, me too. I have always argued that if people in the hobby could simply say they do it because it’s something they want to do and it’s “their thing,” it would avoid SO much argument on the topic. I’m a former Army Captain, and I find it odd that people think I somehow have more of a “right” to display WW2 stuff in uniform at public events than someone who never served, as I wasn’t in WW2 anyway. Even more odd to me is that in almost 100% of the cases, the ones yelling loudest about how people shouldn’t wear uniforms they never “earned” are most often cold war (and later) vets or civilians. In 20+ years in that hobby, I have NEVER ONCE even heard a WW2 vet give grief to a re-enactor. Not once. And I couldn’t possibly count the hundreds of vets I’ve met at events over those years. I’ve heard a few poking fun at the girth and age of a few re-enactors (and even those in a tongue-in-cheek manner), but absolutely never their ”right” to wear the uniforms. So, you really have to wonder why some people get so inflamed about this when the WW2 vets do not.

Just like Jumpwings mentioned in the SSF vet’s quote, most want you to not look like a tool when wearing them and that’s about all they care about. I’ve been asked to display stuff and appear in uniform at many veteran reunions over the years.

I guess I should have seen all this coming, that the thread was going to digress into who has the ”right” to re-enact. My original point (and unlikely ever to be disputed by anyone other than the people I saw doing this) was how insane a multi-era battle for the public would appear, especially in a Army post.

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Captainofthe7th

What Dan has said and what Lee just said I think make a lot of sense. I pretty much got carried away with what I was trying to say. I think what my main argument is, is that while reenacting is really something we do for fun, there is a level of respect in it towards veterans. At least, that is truly one of the reasons I became involved in it. The private tactical battles, of course, are for enjoyment and no comparison to actual combat. Reenacting is certainly not a substitute for military service and it's unfortunate some people take it overboard and act like its the real deal.

 

Even though it is all fun and games, to keep the hobby civil and interesting there has to be some level of seriousness to it, and I think that's where reenactors get defensive. I realized this after going through this thread and trying to defend my own motives. We can't be super serious about it, of course, that's where we run into big problems. But if we were too lenient with it, then it would just be ridiculous and full of things like GI vs. SS vs. Pirates. I hope that makes a bit of sense.

 

Rob

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mpguy80/08
If I was a serving...or ex-soldier, and I happened upon a "weekend warrior" be-decked like General Patton I think I too would feel much like the paratroopers did! Just my 0.2's worth.

 

Sabrejet

 

I went to a Memorial Day parade last year and there was indeed, someone dressed as Patton, complete with pearl handled pistols and a little brass nametag that declared him as "General George S. Patton"... Black moustache and all... I was a little upset about that... He climbed up in the back of a Deuce and a half and rode the parade route. He was the only one in the back of that truck. I was really put out by the audacity of that individual. As a reenactor and living history buff, I was upset. It takes an idiot, or one heck of an ego to do something like that. I feel that true reenactors don't try to stand out from the rest... They dress in the period uniform to honor those who came before, not to stand out like a neon painted sore thumb.

 

I find myself torn on the subject of basic awards. If wearing a Class A uniform of the WWII period, one would expect the ETO and American Theater ribbons. I can see wearing those. As far as the GCM and any valor awards, I say no unless you've earned them. I earned mine on Active duty, however I wont wear any other valor awards. In fact, after wearing the "A" uniform once, I will probably just display it from now on, with common accoutrements a common uniform of the period would have... nothing special.

 

Just my two cents...

 

Wayne

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It's not just in Class A uniform ye see all the gucci bits of accoutrements...

 

Ye also see combat impression, where the guy wears every conceivable piece of kit possible on an Osprey illustration... Ye'd imagine every airborne trooper wore a knife tied at the ankle, a shoulder holster, gloves, black on their cheeks (only), a three day combat impression with polished boots (?????), millions and millions of grenades and torches attached to their suspenders, awww and there's more... All from guys who should actually know better... :thumbdown:

 

But what really makes them stand out?... They are so clean they look like they're straight out the Dragon/Action Man/GI Joe box...(And some act like they are)....

 

And don't get me started on the way they wear their 1940s uniforms in a modern fashion...Ye can always tell who was ex British Army, they wear them dingly danglies in their trousers and shrink their berets and hats down, and wear them perched on their foreheads like they "did when I was in the Army" (in the 1980s)....

 

"I am re-enacting my time in the army, but with a different uniform...No, i mean, I'm doing a serious impression of a WWII solder...No, erm...Ohh...I don't know, stop questioning me"... :w00t:

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Fellows in our unit are to only wear awards (qualification badges) they are qualified to wear. Hell, our "uniform" is coveralls, how fricken "glamorous" is that! As for valor awards, I agree, only if awarded, we have one fellow who earned 2 purple hearts in Viet Nam in the Marines and he has a wound chevron and a ribbon.(as he would have enlisted in 1917.

 

Scott

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citizensoldier

Greetings,

 

I completely agree that there are many reenactors who are involved with military living history for less than stellar reasons. Where there's light there's bugs.

 

There are many different mindsets as to what is appropriate military living history and what is not. The path I have chosen is to focus on using military living history as an educational tool. I engage in several public history events a year where I engage patrons as a costumed historical interpreter speaking about the role local historic soldiers played in various conflicts and try to offer hands-on history programming. With my research I tend to focus more on "forgotton" conflicts such as World War One or theaters of war that have been overshadowed like the Pacific in WW2 or the western theater in The Civil War. The various material culture allows patrons to ask questions they may not have been provoked to ask to otherwise and can bring history to life.

 

I do host a few events a year which are designed as adult education programs where participants can have the opportunity to dig a fox hole, eat period rations in the field, see how manuevers play out in rough country, experience the tug from carrying a heavy pack over several miles, and various weather conditions. The last two were for local colleges where students manuevered about three miles through rugged territory in a driving rain, dug fox holes in the mud, ate cold rations, took turns wearing helmets, packs, gear, and carrying weapons in period formations. We didn't recreate the combat experience (in fact I don't believe you can recreate the combat experience) and there was no glory or romanticizing...just a glimpse into the life of a historical soldiers during the period they were portraying.

 

Another adult education event I conduct is designed for WW1 reenactors where they have the opportunity to march several miles, sleep in funk holes with light and noise discipline, use period manuevers, apply their research in a field setting, and establish an outpost in rugged country. It's not meant to recreate battle, but an opportunity to experience a glimpse into what it may have been like to sleep in a cold muddy hole, eat cold rations out of the can, and be constantly exhausted from carrying a heavy pack and being on the move. Many of the past participants state it has given them a new outlook regarding military living history.

 

I feel that military living history is an important education tool if executed right. However the reputation of military living history has been tarnished because of the many yahoos and negative personalites that are drawn to the hobby.

 

Darrek

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This has developed into an interesting thread now that folks have let off a little steam! So, to throw another wrench into the works, where do we stand on re-enacting and age? I suppose ideally, a long-term living history group member should move up the ranks, as it were, in keeping with their increasing age? However, on more than one occasion I've observed shall we say "mature" men, dressed as G.I's and/ or USAAF pilots etc., when historically the average age would have been 19-23, or thereabouts! I think that if a guy is still re-enacting in middle-age he should at least present an impression of a senior "career" NCO or a Colonel in order to be credible. And yet...it ain't necessarily so!

 

Sabrejet

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Captainofthe7th

If that were the case, our ranks would have an overabundance of NCOs and officers. My unit has tests that we have to take in order to gain rank...this is based on knowledge of the division's history, equipment, weapons, etc. I'm still a Pvt...I haven't bothered with the test because there are already enough PFCs, Cpls, etc. There has to be some sort of organization for everyone to function as a unit. You can't have a squad leader be a leader just because he's older than everyone else.

 

You see a lot of groups that are filled with self-promoted S/Sgts, LTs, and Cpts...and it looks silly and they are the 'wanna-be' types. I think it's fine that there are middle aged guys still without stripes. Remember, we're trying to represent the average infantry company. We have some older guys in the group, but they aren't all officers and NCOs.

 

Thought I'd add - you CAN get demoted, too.

 

Rob

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In the First Special Service Force, an "elite" unit, there was the chief scout, a Pvt, who was 40 years auld... And many EM where in their mid 30's, just look at the gravestones in Italy and France...

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There are a lot of interesting comments in here, and as a relative n00b to the "living history" gig, I find these discussions helpful in shaping my approach to the hobby. First, an acknowledgment... I do this because I really do enjoy it. I've studied the European air war for well over 20 years, and only started getting involved with portraying the men whom I've studied in the last couple of years. And I will admit to being pleasantly surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response shown by non-uniformed people and veterans whom I've met while wearing my uniform. Here's my most recent experience: my 89 year old grandmother is "dating" a 99 year old Air Corps/USAF veteran at the senior facility where they live. Don is an awesome guy, looks at least 20 years younger than he is, and I decided to wear the uniform over for a visit to see how he felt about it since I very much value his opinion.

 

Well, I need not have worried- when he came in the door, his face just lit up in a big smile. He really enjoyed it, and complimented me on how nice I looked in it- then he recommended I come back later and go downstairs to meet other veterans, because he said they'd get a big kick out of it too, and I will be doing that very soon.

 

There are many, many different individual motivations which drive us to pursue this hobby, and doing it for the sheer enjoyment of it is not necessarily a bad thing- so long as the participant at least puts some level of effort into his/her appearance, and conducts themselves in a manner befitting the uniform which they wear, because at the end of the day, the uniform DOES represent something significant and worthy of respect. I don't think it's too much to ask for, but that's just my take on it.

 

Lynn

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Honest question:

 

Why would ye wear an award, or even a just a simple ribbon (that ye actually did earn in a "modern" army) on a WWII uniform?

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