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Commentary: A soldier doesn't need re-enactment

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 9, 2013 - A friend invited me to a Civil War re-enactment. He was well meaning enough, although why he'd think I, a Vietnam veteran, would enjoy such a thing, who knows?

Then he said, “It's realistic.”

To which I replied, “You want realistic? Here's realistic. Fill their rifles with real bullets. But the blood and the gore, that's not what I'm getting at.

"The one who lives, the dead guy's war buddy, there's where you'll find your realism. The survivor, in five years he'll think how his buddy would have graduated from college. In ten years, how his buddy would have started a family, bought a little house. In a park one day with his own kid, fifteen years from now, he'll imagine how his buddy would shag some flies with a son.

"But he won't.

"Because he died. In twenty years, the survivor sending his kid to college, he'll think how his buddy won't. Twenty-five. Thirty. And on it goes until forty years from now, when he visits some memorial somewhere, and he puts his hand on his war buddy's name – reenact that. That's realistic.”

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