I have so much I have intended to update on- festivals, travels and moves- but the events yesterday in Charlottesville surpass all my little things and I feel compelled to get some thoughts down…
As living historian, I initially built my tiny house as a traveling educational exhibit, to teach how the civilians impacted by the Civil War went on with their daily lives while the soldiers were off fighting for whatever cause they believed in.
There have been many times over the years that I have thought about giving up the living history hobby. Sometimes, actually most of the time, it is difficult being a Yankee in the South (during whichever century). I was brought into the hobby almost 25 years ago by a group who were doing it as an awesome family activity. Camping, sewing, history, dressing up, shooting guns. Yes, some had ancestors on one side or the other, but that was not the primary purpose of the group I was involved with, so my Yankee leanings were not criticized- in fact the soldiers in our unit, although mostly from the South, dressed in Blue as the 13th Indiana Volunteers. We would joke about it because someone has to dress in blue in the south or no one gets to play.
As I got deeper into the hobby, I co-founded a civilian group- The Golden Teacup Society. The name was a tongue in cheek play on “society” reenactors. We established early on that we would not take “sides” in the war, that we would represent the women at home doing their best to keep life going as the town closest to whatever event we were at.
So my reenacting life has been fairly free of the confederate statue drama. A little more involved in the flag drama, because it is such a big part of living in the South and I was dragged into it because I am a reenactor of the period- people want my opinion. So I studied the battle flags, state flags and national flags of all the parties involved, when it is appropriate to fly them etc…. and came to be so dismayed that the Confederate Battle Flag had been twisted by a new generation into a symbol of overt hate. Truly I believe the only time it should ever be out there is at an appropriate battle reenactment. Then it should be put away until the next reenactment. (an interesting historical note- the Nazi swastika was a Christian symbol long before Hitler twisted it into something evil. The Christian Church has removed most references to it in art, stained glass windows, etc…)
I have feared for some time that the twisting of the symbolism of the flag, combined with the small minority of reenactors who believe the lie of the twisted symbolism would kill the hobby I have come to love. I have again considered leaving it. But, for now, I will stay, using my tiny house as a magnet to draw children to the light. We all have a history and some of it is very shameful. But it needs to be taught accurately so that it doesn’t happen again. I fear that if I and others who agree with me leave reenacting, it will be completely overrun by the evil that showed its face in Charlottesville yesterday.
I have long admired Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his non violent stance. I till think it’s the best course of action…. but who would have thought that 50 years later, we’d still be seeing this….