Janie Slater, White Fence Realty

“Charge!” Living Reenactments offer Thrills for Youngsters

In Past Columns, Writing on 10/05/2009 at 5:03 pm

History comes alive when people reenact past events. You get to see and hear and richly experience what it must have been like to live and breathe then. Simply reading about history often leaves us wanting.

Cleve reawakened the lurking redneck in me by suggesting one day that we drop in on the Battle of Resaca (Civil War) reenactment. What a thrilling, if tragic, spectacle it was! Jo and Lina (our kids) stayed big-eyed and engrossed while the dramatics played out in front of them in living color. You won”t believe how “real” it feels to stand outside on the rolling countryside in Resaca and hear the artillery fire, smell the smoke of cannons, and listen to the rebel yells.

Civil War Reenactment-Confederate-web

The reenactors are professionals. They study the food, clothing, grooming, utensils, tools, and weapons of the period down to the details for authenticity. Confederate soldiers enter, marching, behind you, led by the general on horseback. You notice Yankee activity on the far hill. And before long, all (er, hot-place) breaks loose. Cannons fire. Gunshots pop and crack. Smoke blankets the landscape. Men fall. Carnage. War. Hell, indeed.

And my heart breaks at the sight and at the loss”on both sides. In every color. Blue and Gray. Black and white. Death, and loss, for all.

I”ve participated over many years past in a reenactment of a different sort”a sloppy, thrown-together, often haphazard improvisational exercise known informally as the Bagwell annual Christmas drama at my mom”s old homeplace in North Carolina. The 13 children of 7 sisters and brothers on my mom”s side of the family formed the cast. We reenacted the Christmas story told in Matthew chapters 1 & 2 and Luke chapter 2. Sheets were costumes. Cousins and siblings were shepherds, angels, and wise men. Once, (to my now horror, mind you) my Aunt Bertha”s dog, Bridgette, got forcefully thrust into the role of baby Jesus”which she played awfully. Our (then) goofy cousin, Mark, asked to play the “worm” one year (you won”t find that one in the gospels). We accomodated. Never was a role more suited for anyone.

Somehow, amid, and in spite of, missed cues, fumbled lines, chuckles, and a dozen red shades of embarassment, something came alive. The Truth of Christmas. Much ado about a baby. Surrounded by an ordinary, unlikely cast of characters. Jesus came to earth for the likes of”us. And my heart rejoiced every time (and does still) at the gain–the gift offered to all people. Life for all. Every color. On every side of every human conflict. No one is left wanting.

Plan Ahead. Here are the details: ” Battle of Resaca Reenactment, Resaca, Georgia. More info: http://www.georgia division.org ” (Closer to home: Fort Pulaski outside Savannah offers reenactments throughout the year.)

(Column originally published by Metter News & Advertiser  16.NOV.05)

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