A question brought up today about Civil War Re-inactors people who like to replay the battles such as Gettysburg or Atlanta or whatever. The question was asked, why do people do this.
My immediate response is, because they think is fun to play soldier and march out like their “ancestors” did.
Now the question brought up is of the 40,000 + reinactors why do they predominately seem to prefer the Confederates over the Union?
My immediate thought was “Well who wants to march two feet before being shot all the time like most of the Union soldiers did in the northeastern battles.”
But seriously why do people like to dress up like say LDS pioneers and march in covered wagon or as roman soldiers or any other of those various dress up roles. Is it a consequence of a desire to act out some of their ideas or is a larger more significant demonstration of some desire to retain a memory of the “Lost Cause“?
Speaking of that one of the subjects in class was the idea of memory verses history and how often memory can create a more popular communal notion of the past than academic history. It is something that in a LDS context makes a lot of sense.
As LDS historians often run up against memory (the communal idealized history) when dealing with some subjects in Church history. Memory has a strong pull in the church that to question it can bring you on the wrong side of some people. Yet as a historian I have no problem with revering memory as well as history.
Sometimes memory’s role works to create a common communal understanding and acceptance. It creates unity which analytical history fails often to do. Where it can be corrected or challenged this works to show cracks in memory but in some cases those cracks can lead to a much more refined character.
The symbiosis of history and memory means they will always challenge and shape each other and our experiences. Accepting that allows us to understand our history and honour the memory regardless.