Considered a hobby by most of its participants, the motivations attributed to war reenactors cover a wide gamut. These range from unresolved issues emanating from past conflicts, to attempts to build authentic community by simulating historical events, or simply the desire to preserve the past by “living history”.
While historians may dismiss war reenactments as perverse, the popularity of these events show no signs of waning. Research shows that the hobby is dominated by white men, the vast majority having no military combat experience although the majority also have relatives who fought in the wars they reenact. Many reenactors also see this activity as a celebration of the common soldier.
While that may be true Civil War historian Bruce Canton offers a important caution: “Lay on the sentiment, the romance, and the dramatic appeal heavily enough, and we shall presently forget that the war was fought by real living men who were deeply moved by thoughts and emotions of overwhelming urgency.”
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