Why I Do This

by Jonah Begone

In my short career as a reenactor, I've heard various explanations quoted by my Living Historian brethren (my Dead Historian brethren don't have much to say on the subject) as to why they do it -- dress up and play war on the weekends, that is. I've read columns in unit newsletters and local papers that somehow ties reenacting to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, a love of patriotism, a love of Ronald Reagan, the spirit of freedom manifested by people in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, China and Romania, a hatred for firearms control, the continuing battle against greed and hypocrisy as exemplified by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Donald Trump or Jim and Tammy Bakker, and the self- appointed duty to provide a factual education in Real History to the public, the National Park visitors or anyone else who'll listen. All told, you can hear less flatulent rhetoric in Presidential campaigns!

I, of course, have reasons of my own. Here they are:

1) I like to get away from my family for a weekend, and sometimes they even like me to get away from them.

2) Not being a McDonald's employee, I don't get to wear a spiffy- looking uniform at work. I do at reenactments.

3) I like to make fun of cavalrymen, especially the dismounted ones.

4) I actually get something that sort of vaguely resembles a form of light non-impact exercise at reenactments.

5) Reenactors are generally weird. So am I. We get along.

6) Sleeping out in the rain makes me feel macho, as does courting death by skirting a case of four-alarm heat prostration at summer events.

7) I keep hoping for my one big photo-opportunity into the world of Civil War commemorative video tapes.

8) "Zulu" is my hands-down all-time favorite movie, so I have lots to talk about with reenactors.

9) I get to frequently utilize my carefully-developed distrust of authority by making fun of officers.

10) I'm a pyromaniac and don't have a fireplace at home, so I can sit around the campfire and burn things.

11) I like to make noise, but if I fire black powder blanks at work I'll be the one getting fired. I can indulge myself at events.

12) I like scuffing up the wooden floors of historic homes with the heel plates on my brogans.

13) I enjoy the relaxed sanitation standards found only amongst large groups of tubby, bearded men.

14) People appreciate the humor in my "Civil War Reenactors Have Lead Balls!" bumper sticker on my pickup.

15) Reenacting gives me instant celebrity status with anyone who saw "Glory."

16) The National Rifle Association gives me money for using my musket in a non drug-related context.

17) I'm not a veteran of any American war so I earn bragging rights with my grandchildren by my participation in 125th anniversary events.

18) Reenacting lets me indulge my adolescent fantasies. Growing up, I used to watch a lot of "Combat!" with Vic "Call me Headless" Morrow. (I watched a lot of "the Avengers," too, but so far haven't found a vivandiere that even remotely resembles Diana Rigg.)

19) You can pay more, but you simply can't find better fast food than at the "steak-in-a-sack."

20) I enjoy watching the teenagers in my unit and wondering if I was that goofy when I was their age.

Those are my reasons, take 'em or leave 'em.