Why I Reenact: It’s about Remembering
History is seen my many as little more than a boring list of names and dates. Given the way history is taught these days, I can’t really blame them.
But here’s the thing. History IS made up of names and dates. We just often forget that not every name was famous, and not every date was important. Do you think that the man who collects your garbage will ever make it to the pages of a history book? Probably not. Does that mean that he didn’t exist, or that his life wasn’t important, that he doesn’t have a story to tell?
No. And history is made of those people. I feel like the mortar between the important bricks of history, the stuff that holds the world together, is all of those untold stories.
History isn’t abstract. History is made of real people with fully fleshed out lives. They had childhoods and children, friends and lovers, likes and dislikes. They felt love and they felt sadness. They had stories just as much as you or I. I reenact to remember that history isn’t just what came before, but that at one point, history was today, yesterday, and tomorrow. It was last week, and it was next month. History is a real thing, with real people, who had real lives and real stories. When we reenact, we celebrate those who came before us.
When I look at the photos that I take at events, I often stop and think about the people who wore those same uniforms long before we did. What were they like? Where did they grow up? What led them to become the person that is being recreated in spirit? Did they find this wool as itchy as I do? Who were they thinking about when the bullets started to fly?
Some day, a century or two from now, people will be reenacting things that you and I experienced. When you reenact, you’re remembering people just like you and I, and you’re that hypothetical reenactor a few centuries into the future, remembering someone whose name history has forgotten.