Photo: Anthony and his unit at the Ralston 4th of July Parade, 2009
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I should have been a Civil War widow over the 4th of July weekend.
Anthony and I had the following conversation many times in our eight years together. It happened before we were married, before I was pregnant, during my pregnancy and even with little Braxton in his arms: “I don’t care if I have to go with Braxton strapped to my back, I will be at the 150th Gettysburg.”
Now, you may be wondering what I am talking about. Or perhaps some history buffs already know, but my husband is a Civil War reenactor. If you have seen Sweet Home Alabama you might have a sense of what this entails. For Anthony, a history teacher, it offers several opportunities:
1. Living History, he has been obsessed with the Civil War since the release of the movie Gettysburg in 1993, he was 9 years old. He and his family have been to Gettysburg nine times.
2. A taste of military service, another long-held devotion and source of respect of his.
3. A “guy” activity (without sounding too sexist).
He’s a part of the 1st Nebraska, which is a unit that is meant to represent those who fought in the Civil War, having signed up to fight in the war, from Nebraska and surrounding areas. This group of men today from various backgrounds, ranging from military vets, mostly Vietnam, to history buffs and just Civil War enthusiasts is a light-hearted, friendly, passionate group of guys that serve with pride in a little known activity, with countless lessons to teach those willing to listen or participate.
Their reenacting involves going to battle weekends, mostly located in the Midwest and doing either Living History or actual reenactments. There are two kinds of reenactments: tactical and reenactments of actual battles, such as Gettysburg. Tacticals mean the soldiers make up a battle and play it out as it goes. Reenactments are when they are trying to recreate the actual movements of the units as it would have happened originally. To get a taste of Civil War reenacting culture, you can watch episode 6 of HBO’s “Family Tree”.
The reason I started off this post saying, “I should have been a Civil War widow” this past weekend was because despite his best intentions and desires to have gone to the 150th Gettysburg, he didn’t. He is nearly at the end of a Master’s degree, in the middle of a class and simply couldn’t miss it. It meant that he got to watch videos of it and read articles about it, which, of course, he has been sharing with Braxton, but he wasn’t there. This is something that breaks my heart and was a difficult thing to miss for Anthony as well, but when it came down to it, he had to make a decision that benefited everyone, rather than his own passions and I revere him for that.
I keep telling Anthony, there is always next year. Gettysburg puts on quite the show commemorating the battle every year and I look forward to us being there to see it. Perhaps by then Braxton will be ready to get a drummer boy costume (ahem, I mean uniform) and be able to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Omaha mom Jenny Razor, a high school English teacher at Omaha Public Schools, blogs for momaha every other Saturday.
Read more from Jenny, by clicking here.
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