Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Enjoying Reenacting is a Matter of Prespective

    A miserably cold rainy Civil War Reenactment day reminded me why I enjoy reenacting.  We spent last Saturday at the reenactment at Cantigny Museum [I wrote this post in Oct 2014, but it got lost in life's details; I post it now in 2016 because it's still a good summary of my view of reenacting].  It was windy cold & rainy most of the day.  The kind of damp cold that seeps in clinging to you even though you keep moving to ward it off.  Even before leaving the homestead early in the morning, while finishing packing up it was sleeting so we had warning. . . but we loaded up and went anyway, hopeful that things would improve during the day.  The sleet changed to a cold misting rain.  The day was not the most busy.  Spectators came, but not as many as would come on a nice fall day.  Couldn't put out the usual historical displays to attract spectators.  Reenactors came, but we couldn't put out the gift table with mail kits and such for them to browse and enjoy.  The cookies and goodies we put out under the fly kept getting sprinkled as the wind would whip in the rain.  The layers of clothing did only so much good to keep us warm.  Vicki especially shivered with the cold.
    But at the end of the long day I had a renewed sense of satisfaction over having gone.  In spite of, or better through the miserable weather of the day, I was reminded again why I enjoy this "odd hobby" of remembering and reenacting history long gone.

    When we arrived, we were welcomed and helped to set up things by people glad we had come to be with them.  At the end of the long day, we had help packing up things.  One good friend not only helped take down the tent, but even gave Vicki an extra coat so she could have additional warmth as she packed up things for the ride home.  There were other instances of help here & there during the day.
    These friends, typically only seen on the reenacting field, would never have been known apart from our involvement in this hobby.  Our paths would not have crossed in the normal travels of life.  I count each "reenacting friend" as a blessing on my family.

Honest heartfelt encouragement.
    All through the day, the reenactors would stop by the tent.  Over and over again, in various ways, they offered thanks and encouragements about our being there to offer them good food and drink.  One joke that became the saying of the day to those stopping in was "help yourself . . . we have ice cold lemonade and mint tea".  We didn't use much ice.  But the guys did enjoy the lemonade, mint & sarsaparilla teas anyway.
    Now the guys are always appreciative, but on this day, because of the cold and rain, they seemed to express "thanks" a little more energetically.  Maybe it was because the day was so miserable that each "thanks so much for doing this" comment stood out to me.  No matter.  On the way home, I was grateful that we had had the opportunity to go and remind those reenactors of the servants of the U.S. Christian Commission who had served under far harder conditions soldiers far more hungry.

    Our son Joshua shared the day with us, pitching in hard to get things up and running and going.  Our other son Justin was also able to come and help setup and brought Jonas our grandson along.  With the kids getting older now, our reenacting events become an enjoyable "family event".
    Jonas learned an interesting "life lesson". He had watched Uncle Joshua push up the fly to drain the water off it.  Jonas tried to do the same on the other side, couldn't reach up that far, got a stick and pushed up the fly and sure enough the collected water poured off.  One small minor detail Jonas didn't understand:  you stand facing out, you don't stand facing in.  The water poured off the tent and right on to him as he was looking up.  And too his credit, he didn't whine or cry.  He shrugged it off and kept going.
    For over twenty years now, reenacting has given us special "family stories" and memories.  I'm grateful for that.

Honoring those who served our country.
    Cantigny Museum remembers the First Division.  Through-out the day I had opportunity to talk to Veterans who would stop by.  To listen to their stories and thank them for their service.
    I also choose this event to honor my father, Robert Rowe, a WWII vet who died in July [2014].  I walked the camp handing out to the reenactors Civil War patriotic covers in honor of my dad who stepped up to serve his country when it was needed.  He taught us as a family to love our country, to do good to others, and to love Jesus Christ.  He was not famous to others.  But to me he remains an example of service and sacrifice.

    So, for me, the Cantigny event was a good reminder of why I have enjoyed doing this hobby for over twenty years now.  Yes, it was a wet, cold, windy day that chilled you to the bone.  But the chill didn't reach the heart.

Your humble and obedient servant,
Glenn Rowe

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