Reenact: Take Two

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 3, 2018

When I was in high school, I was a serious history geek. My Civil Air Patrol unit volunteered to help out at an airshow every year, and when we weren’t doing volunteer shifts, our time was our own. The first year I went, I was struck by how cool the reenactors were, and I decided that I wanted to do some reenacting, too. I did my research, and decided on a persona that I thought I could accurately portray. I tried to find a unit local to me but had no luck. I saved my money to rent a uniform and equipment, and I had to talk my parents into letting me do all of this.

The second year at the air show, after my volunteer shift, I changed into my persona’s clothes and went out to wander around the reenacting units, hoping to meet up in person with some groups I’d read about online. I was (and am) a bit socially awkward and shy, so it took a serious amount of investment to make myself get out there and try to talk to people.

To my dismay, one of the units I’d read about on the Internet was a lot more standoffish than I’d hoped, and one member even pointed out some discrepancies with my uniform. I was able to explain that I knew that what I was wearing was different from what most of the unit was wearing, and what that signified (artillery vs infantry, if anyone cares!), but it really didn’t seem to help, and I left the encampment feeling like a total failure at both reenacting and talking to people.

Still in uniform, thinking about how I’d never reenact again, I went to get food and sat down at a long table by myself. A total stranger took a seat across from me, correctly identified that I was supposed to be in the artillery, and complimented me on my unusual but totally valid choice of persona. We started talking, and he said it was so nice to see a younger person take an interest in history like this. We talked for a good twenty minutes, and I’ll never forget how he totally changed my mind on reenacting. He re-convinced me! While I didn’t go back to that event (or that time period), I still do reenacting, and I’ve come to realize that if you do your research, people will appreciate it.

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