I've come to realize that many reenactors of the Civil War feel like they belong to a sort of family. And believe me, it is a tight-knit social group, at least from my experience. This past weekend's annual Battle of Plymouth Living History Weekend brought this fact sharply into focus for me. First of all, I got to see a lot of folks that I haven't seen in 6 months or more, which is always nice. But there was a lot more to it this weekend than just seeing old friends and acquaintances.
I am always amazed at the dedication of a small group of Pennsylvanians who make the trek to Plymouth, NC each year to honor their ancestors of the 101st and 103rd Pennsylvania regiments. They are truly genuine in the love of their ancestors and heritage, and are some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. Their dedication to preserving the memory of their forebears is heartening.
This weekend also witnessed the return to the field of a long-time reenactor who is well loved and respected in the reenacting community. Not long ago he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and he has withered physically. After Saturday's battle he told me that being back on the field was the best therapy he's had yet. On Sunday morning he and his son were baptized at the river and his battalion promoted him to the rank of Lt. General, a rank that he has always declined to take. The outpouring of love and generosity shown this weekend would be enough to convince anyone that reenactors really are a sort of family. They care about one another, look out for one another, and will give each other the shirt off their back when needed. Sure, sometimes they squabble like children, but that's also part of being a family now, isn't it?
I've met a lot of great people through the reenacting community, and I'm sure in the years to come there will be many more. But this past weekend reminded me that life isn't just about Yankees and Confederates, but its about taking care of your fellow man and enjoying the company of others before its too late.