Commonplace Book #98

Like other image tribes, reenactors believe they carry a burden of educating the public about the Civil War.  “Monuments and street names don’t work anymore,” a reenactor at the 130th anniversary pointed out.  “We’ve got to help[ them [tourists] learn and we do that be reenacting.”  Frequently they label themselves “historians,” referring to their often keen knowledge of details.  Tourists are invited to their camps at Gettysburg to mingle and ask questions.  A woman who talked to a Confederate reenactor in 1992 left with a “new respect for our country’s history.” At a Children’s Day Camp during the 1995 reenactment, reenactors set off a mortar, shot and sabered dummies, and blew up a small building to squeals of “cool,” and “awesome.”  Reenactors control the present by removing themselves from its, and control the past by counterpoising academic history with heritage.

Weeks, Memory, Market, and an American Shrine, 213