As mentioned in the previous post, Abner Rainbow, the fighter pilot who flew an astounding 105 missions over Europe, made it clear that he was just doing his job and looking out for the guy next to him, that no one was looking for Purple Hearts or special recognition, and that if we were in his position, we would do the same thing.
I sincerely hope that is the case.
One of my dance partners, who had breakfasted with Wild Bill and was thoroughly blown away by the older man’s stories, said that it was a different culture nowadays. One of us observed that now, the servicemen/women seem more concerned with how they can change the military to fit them than they used to be. It was probably me making the observation because the partner, an active duty serviceman, generally agreed although everyone he knows/works with are all good people.
Maybe this change happened because WW2 was much more urgent, that the fate of the whole of Western Civilization hung on the outcome, and that the current wars of recent memory have been much more abstract in nature? Maybe it’s because we, as a nation, are wealthier and have more material expectations from life, almost like a sense of entitlement? Maybe it’s just something that happened with no explanation?
- A majority of the people we interacted with were retired or active duty military.
- These events are militaristic. The people are really good at drills and precision. Like so. But they’re less serious than a real military thing. Which is fine with me. There is still plenty of “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir,” and they speak in current and past acronyms that start sounding like alphabet soup after too long.
- The community, although not without its politics, is fun – a very respectful group of nerds who get together and talk about the nuances of everything, from thread count in British canvas to why the assassination attempt on Hitler was really a good/bad idea in the long run.
- There’s also the cultural immersion aspect – the sliding scale of authenticity from women’s hairstyles to cutlery to music. And then there’s the sliding scale of authenticity adherence – are his knickers authentic or are they from a 6-pack of Fruit of the Loom from Wal-Mart? (Answer: depends on who you ask.)
- These people do it, more or less, to honor the guys who actually did it, and the most rewarding thing that could happen is for one of them to meet a veteran from a unit they’re portraying and to be told, “Good job.” Naturally, this means the focus tends to be on militaristic things – weapons, tanks/vehicles, strategy, the War Effort, Buy War Bonds, Save Scrap Metal, Uncle Sam Wants YOU. There is less emphasis on the really unpleasant bits. That is, there aren’t a lot of people dressing up like Holocaust victims/survivors. That’s just – no.
- This event was different than Civil War events. Although the CW happened so long ago that we’re now on Robert E Lee VI, the themes of government authority and race are still alive today. But WW2 – the technology and artifacts are much more current, but the themes of stopping a super-race and world domination, are largely irrelevant. (Genocide, on the other hand, is for another post.) It’s an interesting juxtaposition.
- And because I needed to share this: The British guys do a pretty convincing accent. When someone asked where they had learned to speak like that, they answered, “Rosetta Stone.” The little old British lady said, “Oh, I didn’t know they could teach you to have an accent.” (They explained themselves to her, don’t worry.)