Monday, July 23, 2007

How authentic is authentic?


So, the ongoing war between "hardcores", "Progressives", "campaigners" or whatever the term of the month is today, and the 'mainstreamers' (a derogatory term for those not hardcore) continues. We strive for authenticity in reenacting. Some more than others. On one end, The Civil War Heritage Foundation, where blue jeans and black sneakers are ok, 'as long as you're trying.' On the other extreme, the campaigners, who piss on their buttons to get 'the right patina', whatever the hell that is? I highly doubt that the civil war soldier had that patina. I tend to think he had better things to do than to piss on his own buttons! #1 that would come to mind would be 'survival'!

We've all taken food out of the fridge, watched tv, felt air conditioning, most likely flown in planes, eaten beef that was fed hormones, eaten produce that was fertilized with things other than manure, etc., etc. When we don our 'jaunty lil' uniforms to go play soldier, each of us thinks 'he's doin' it right.' Some more than others. That is true. Respect those who try, don't belittle them. Stay away from those who take it to extreme. They hate 'mainstreamers, yet they attend every mainstream event. I think they're not happy unless they've something 'to bitch about!' Take the 'middle of the road' approach. Realize that you'll never actually 'be there', but give it your best shot. Don't do a JEB Stuart impression if you're only 5 ft 6 in. Don't to a Gouverneur Warren impression if you're 60 plus years old and weigh 300 lbs. You owe it to those you represent to do better. You're not honoring them. You're trivializing and be-littling them. They saw and did more than we can possibly imagine. We owe them more!

If you see someone 'doing it right', praise them and thank them. If you see a farb, don't be afraid to ask them what their impression is based on. Diary? Photo? Imagination? Ask them what they think. You can make a difference. I don't want everyone to be 'hardcore, salt-pork-and-cush eaters'! That's not the objective. I just want us all to respect, honor, and show a bit of what those who went before us actually did. We owe them at least that. Without them, we wouldn't be us! Who can argue with that?

By the way, pictured with me is Joe Lesniewski, an Easy Co. (Band of Brothers, yep!) veteran from Erie PA. Joe landed in Normandy and Holland, fought in 'the Bulge', and was in both Germany and Austria. He's 'been there!' Rather than criticque and look down on reenactors, he was happy that 'we remembered and attempted to pass it on!' What more can one hope for?
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