Modern reenactments are a way of honoring veterans and preserving the memory of those who gave their lives in recent wars. The motto of the Historical Reenactment Society is more majorum, which means in the tradition before us. Modern reenactors (really all reenactors in general) have a deep passion for history and a high level of respect for the men (and women) who served their country.
Some people consider modern reenactments to be based on events that occurred during the 18th century and later. While some people include Napoleonic Wars and the Victorian era as modern reenactments, 20th century events are considered more to be modern reenactments. The first modern reenactment was the 1961 American Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Manassas. This first battle was heavily criticized and misunderstood. Today American Civil War reenacting is extremely popular and has lead to reenactments of more modern conflicts.
The Timeframe of Modern Reenactments
Most reenactors consider World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War reenactments to be modern wars. One of the first World War I reenactment was in September 1979 in Emmetsburg, Maryland. Since then World War I reenactments have gained popularity, but since most events are private they are not as well known as Civil War reenactments. World War II was reenacted throughout the 1950s, but it wasn't until 1979 the World War II Historical Reenactment Society (HRS) was created which spawned full-scale reenactments. Korean War reenactments still lack the popularity other reenactments have, but started in the early 1990s. Also started in the early 90s was Vietnam War reenacting. Vietnam War reenactments began with World War I reenactors and were not accepted very quickly due to the controversy surrounding the war. Now Vietnam reenacting has gained much popularity and is usually done by those who also reenact World War II.
To find out more about modern reenactments read War Games by Jenny Thompson. Jenny Thompson, a historian, studied many reenactments and interviewed hundreds of reenactors. Thompson addresses the criticism many reenactors face by people who believe reenacting these recent wars can be painful for veterans or trivializing the events. She says that many reenactors believe that history should not be left to sit in museums or books, but rather be experienced and remembered as fully as possible. Thompson?s book will give any new reenactor a clear, uncensored view of what to expect.
In order to be a modern reenactor you must almost become a historian. Research is important to reenactors, and while reenacting is a fun hobby it must also be taken seriously and respected. If you share this strong passion for history, the hobby of modern reenacting will provide lots of good times and good friends.