Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Traditional Life

A couple of weeks ago I, along with others from the 21st Michigan Civil War reenactor unit I belong to, participated in a living history presentation in Dearborn at Ford Field (no, not the football stadium in downtown Kwame-town, but the original Ford Field!). It was actually a festival - a major festival, with rides, games, burgers and beer, an Eddie Money concert, cotton candy, and everything else that one sees at at a carnival.
But, off in a corner, beneath a grove of shade trees, sat a group of historians, if you will...from many different eras of American history. There was a soldier from the French and Indian War, a soldier from the Revolutionary War, a group of us from the Civil War era, as well as military members from the Spanish-American War and World Wars 1 and 2. There were chandlers from the colonial period dipping real beeswax candles, I had my 1860's postmaster tent set up, and there was a young lady who was fervently collecting money to save Civil War battle flags.
Funny thing about reenactors - no matter what era in time we represent, we tend to enjoy speaking with those from other time periods - there is a common bond that links us: our love of everything history.
I find that when I go to a place such as Greenfield Village or Crossroads Village and speak with the docents, that same bond exists; when I visit a quality local historical society such as the Crocker House in Mt. Clemens (run by Kim Parr) or my own East Detroit Historical Society (Suzanne Pixley - President) - just to name two of the many - I find that same excitement and knowledge. It's that like-mindedness that we share.
Besides our collective passions for the past, I have also found other similarities that bind us together: in general (but not always), I have found the greater majority of reenactors - especially of 19th century and earlier eras - are conservative in nature, are practicing Christians in the traditional sense, and have traditional morals, values, and mores.
Some folks say because of that, we live in the past.
I love it when people say that.
I actually had someone tell me that, because I have been married for over 23 years to the same person - the one and only marriage for both of us - and that we are church go-ers, have four kids, do things as a family, eat supper together 5 out of 7 days, etc., that we are a minority; that we are unusual. Another friend laughed at me upon hearing of our eating habits, and, in a mock tone, told me I lived in the past, and said that she's lucky if her family eats together on Christmas, much less throughout the rest of the year.
I find that sad.
I mean, my oldest is 20 and he still sits with us nearly every night - when work or college doesn't interfere - to eat, many times with his girlfriend joining us. He also joins us for church on Sunday mornings, when we visit his grandmother who lives in Battle Creek, extended family Holidays, and sometimes just to watch a rented movie.
Just so you don't think he is not of this 21st century time period, this son of mine also has a lap top computer, the latest cell phone, at times is in a contemporary rock band, and goes to the movies every chance he gets to see the latest flick, among other things.
He was raised to live in today's society with the values of the past, as are the rest of my children.
You know, it's not hard to live a traditional life in the 21st century. But, I suppose reenacting has helped me find others and their families who are like us.

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