Well… I’m sure glad that we finally did go to witness a ‘Civil War Reenactment’ event at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista yesterday. I’ve never been much of one for any of these “mach gun fights” or the like as it always seemed to be just some cheesy thing to me. As a child in school I was never really interested in history either but my fascination with it grew over the years. Particularly when it pertains to major national events such as the Civil War, WW I and WW II. The Civil War was perhaps one of the most significant events in American history.
Our friends Darryl and Christine joined us, along with our neighbor Kevin who is a bit of an antique firearms collector. As it turns out, Kevin used to participate with a Civil War Reenactment group who just happened to be in attendance so he was able to catch up with friends he had not seen in almost 10 years.
When we decided to do this… I had made up my mind to go with the mindset that this event is intended to make people think about what the war was actually like. The noise, the confusion the number of men that were maimed or lost their lives. This wasn’t a picnic in any way, shape or form. This reenactment was not intended to entertain or be entertaining in any way. I have seen a lot of original photographs that had been taken of the battle fields from that era and countless documentaries on the subject not the least of which being the famous “Ken Burns: The Civil Way”. As I watched these “battles” take place before my very eyes… waives of emotion began to take hold and there were times I had to fight to keep the tears back. I thought about the first actual battle of that war and the fact the people attended it carrying picnic baskets to witness it thinking it was some kind game or something. They didn’t realize just how devastating it was going to be or for how long it was going to last or even the number of men that would die and never return home. As I watched, these thoughts became more intense almost too difficult to control. If you are reading this… and you ever get the chance to witness one of these events, go into with this same mindset. Because in reality, this is what it was all about.
At the end… the man who played the role of President Abraham Lincoln addressed the crowd. He started by explain that he had been asked to come to Gettysburg to deliver a speech to honor at the dedication of the first National cemetery created for the fallen soldiers who fought in that battle. He explained that his wife Marry did not want him to go. He explained his anguish over all that had take place throughout the war up to that point. And then he delivered the famous address. I felt the anguish, the sorrow and above all the deep the meaning of that speech in a way I had never understood it before. As a child I had to memorize that speech to deliver it to my classmates but it didn’t have the same meaning is it did yesterday. At the end, I approached this man to shake his hand and thank him. At first he seemed to think perhaps I was just another one of the crowd. But I told him that he did a wonderful job at conveying the very emotion that President Lincoln must have been experiencing at the time.