Saturday, September 28, 2013

Civil War Letter Writing Reenacting

     Why not explore history through Civil War letter writing? We reenact Civil War history for a variety of reasons.  But whatever our personal motivation, when its no longer "fun" we lose heart.  One helpful way to keep it fun is to constantly be putting ourselves back into "their time".  By wearing brogans we realize the valor of a long march.  By wearing wool we discover the reality of being too hot . . . then enjoy the warmth as the day cools down.  Discovering for ourselves -- putting ourselves back into their time in practical ways creates the "fun" of discovering history.  And its this discovery which takes us beyond 'camping out' into 'reenacting'.
     During the Civil War letter writing blossomed.  Never before had so many people been uprooted from home, experiencing the mixture of the excitement of travel and the pain of homesickness.  Their letters were their way of sharing the wonder of discovery, the grief of being apart, the laughter over the craziness of their situation.  Letter writing was their way to stay connected with loved ones so far away. 
    And for us today letter writing is an excellent way of making their history become "real".  Experimenting in letter writing is sitting beside the fire wondering "what would I say?"  One woman shared with me how writing a letter to her son on her home state stationery as she waited for the various groups to come through at the living history event really helped her 'become' the person she was portraying.  "I imagined proudly using the stationery to write home" she said.  "I was both writing back then, yet writing to my son now, sharing what is happening."  Another reenactor at the 150th anniversary of Fort Sumter shared how writing letters while being there made the event come alive for himself and for the spectators who talked to him about what he was doing.
     I have known several reenactors who enjoy using letter writing to share the experience with family and friends who can't be present.  Others use letter writing to enhance the experience for fellow reenactors at the event.  Such letters are an enjoyable mixture of reality and imagination.  And its imagination which enables us to better explore for ourselves and explain to spectators the history we are trying to honor.
     In your letter writing, give yourself the freedom to mix what's going on with the broader landscape of history.  For example grumbling about the food and the offices can be both historic fun and present day therapy.  I have friends who think I'm a little crazy to send them one of my letters from the front, but they enjoy getting the note and sometimes even learn a little history in spite of themselves.
     Yes, we should use good envelopes and stationery to make accurate living history props for people to see.  But why shouldn't we also use letters to help us explore the fun of reenacting?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gun Control Laws In Historical Perspective

Will Gun Control Laws Make for a Free and Safe America?  Consider the following historical examples:

     "In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control.  From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     In 1911, Turkey established gun control.  From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     Germany established gun control in 1938.  From 1939 to 1945, 13 million Jews and other undesirables, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     China established gun control in 1935.  From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     Guatemala established gun control in 1964.  from 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     Uganda established gun control in 1970.  From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     Cambodia established gun control in 1956.  From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
     People rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control:  approx 56,000,000.
     Gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their government.  It cost Australian taxpayers over $500 million dollars.  The first year country-wide, homicides were up 3.2 percent, assaults up 8.6 percent, armed robberies up 44 percent.  In the Australian state of Victoria, homicides with firearms were up 300 percent.  Law-abiding citizens turned guns in, criminals did not.  For the previous 25 years there had been a steady decrease in armed robberies.  This turned upward in the first year of gun control.  There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults on the elderly.  Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety had decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns.
     Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property.  Gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.  With guns, we are 'citizens', without them, we are 'subjects' and may become slaves!!!  During WWII the Japanese decided NOT to invade continental America because they knew most Americans were armed.  Why don't you see this data in the U.S. media, or hear politicians telling you the facts?  The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson.  Spread the word.  Our forefathers and mothers fought to be free.  Why can't we???"

     The above information is from a handout I received from a fellow reenactor.  I do not know where he got it;  there was no tag-line of authorship or publisher.  I did not do independent research into all the historical examples cited or differing opinions as to exactly how many people died.  I have read about some of the examples cited above in my study of history, so I think it's fair to cite them as illustrations of the weakening of civil liberty & safety that government gun control brings.  Yes, I worded it that way on purpose:  the government controls the guns.
     "But our founding fathers didn't envision machine guns."  True, but they had experienced government control of the ability to enslaved and exterminate dissidents.  The Founding Fathers wanted us as citizens to be able to resist the political elitists who naturally rise to power through wealth & corruption and then presume they can choose who lives and who dies.  When the population is deceived into thinking that ALL protection comes ONLY from the government, then they are indeed enslaved.
     "But we don't want to live in the wild west".  Well just go to the south side of Chicago and see how well gun control is working.  If that's not "the wild west" repeated I don't know what is . . . AND Chicago is a bastion of progressive political control.  Most gun owners are law abiding citizens who want the right of self-protection should it be needed as a last resort in an imperfect world.  Progressive elites want us unarmed, while they have their professional body guards to accompany them as they work the system to benefit themselves and their political allies at the cost of the general population.
     When I was growing up in the 1950s/60s I learned about how in the USSR system the people were the slaves of the politically powerful.  I could not imagine that I would live to see that same approach to social control coming to America.  Call it socialism, communism, progressivism, whatever -- its the control of the population through regulation, intimidation and a militarized police force.  Our Founding Fathers understood the realities of being too weak to defend against a centralized government run for the benefit of the few powerful insiders.  But then who studies history anymore . . . is there even an App for that?