When the Kids Grow Up…
Mrs. Robin and I home schooled both of our wonderful kids. A big part of the home schooling experience was something called Living History. A history major in college, it is one of my favorite subjects, and in the times we lived when the kids were small, history was in danger of being forgotten, misapplied, and twisted. Even more now, when the far Left is actively re-writing history to suit a “narrative” that is in keeping with their agenda.
As a family we attended – and then participated in – many living history events. Even in those days, nearly 20 years ago, our country was being divided by Left-leaning educators, politicians, and media. I credit President Obama more than any other public figure in those days, of reawakening racial and class divisions and setting Americans against each other again. As bad as he was, the current Democrat-majority national government has intensified and exploited old divisions and re-opened old wounds.
Most of the living history events we got involved in as our home schooling progressed were portayals of the War Between the States. I enlisted in the Federal army (US) as an artilleryman and brought the family along as civilian reenactors. We “fought” in battles near and far, from our home state of Florida to re-created battles as far North as Tennessee. I also served as a Confederate cannonier with an artillery battery that had the high honor of “opening the ball” at the 125th Gettysburg reenactment which took place on the actual Gettysburg battlefield. “Opening the ball” means firing the very first shot. We did so with our cannons in the great cannonade of the third day preceding Pickett’s Charge. Unforgettable!
Fast forward about 20 years:
The kids are grown and out on their own. Our beautiful daughter married a missionary pilot and serves with Ethnos 360 Aviation in Papua, New Guinea. Our son joined the US Army and served as a Cavalry Scout (as did President Reagan, by the way), then took a job in Florida’s Department of Corrections for a few years until the good ol’ boy club’s politics made serving with a clear conscience impossible. So he has taken a “regular” job at a lumber mill where he works as hard as he did in the Army. But like me, his life has been “all work and no play” for far too long, and he sought out something that would not only be fun, but meaningful and wholesome. Imagine my surprise when he informed me that he had enlisted in the Confederate Infantry (reenacting – we’re not to the point of civil war in the US yet) with the 2nd Florida, a reenactor’s unit with a long history and wonderful people. I was invited to join, and did so without a moment’s hesitation. I jumped at the chance to re-live the fun and meaningfulness of those schooling days two decades before, and to share it with my beloved son who needed it as much as I.
What follows is my “After Action Report” to the 2nd Florida on this past weekend’s reenactment. Enjoy!
After Action Report: A Father’s Pride
Honored Gentlemen and Brothers-in-Arms,
While I realize it is not my proper place, perhaps, as a “fresh fish,” to write a formal after-action report, I wish it entered into the record if you deem it worthy. I have entitled this report, A Father’s Pride.
It is my sincere pleasure to express my profound gratitude to this venerable Company for the warm welcome that my son, Pvt. Stephen and I received from your generous hearts and hands as we arrived late Friday evening and found our tent already assembled and fine grub set aside for us. We both felt instantly an important part of the group and eager to prove ourselves worthy of you all.
Unable to get many photographs because of how busy we were on the first day, I can offer only a few that I was able to document. First among them is this depiction of Pvt Stephen’s freshly-issued uniform and battle gear. My thanks to our Esteemed Quartermaster for his resourcefulness and consideration in getting us outfitted. Sgt Sealy and (acting) Captain Adam made sure were well-schooled in both drill and the proper use of the rifle before we were engaged only a few hours later. The Tradition of the Infantry for “fresh fish” is grotesque, yet honorable as it marks us on the battlefield as those to watch out for and lend assistance when needed. Pvt Stephen and I found that very comforting in spite of the insult to our physical appearance. We took pride in having been accepted, prepared, and honored by the Tradition.
My hand-me-down Broghans from Pvt Jake (yes, my feet are actually smaller than his) sufficed for Saturday’s first engagement, but left me with blisters which prevented me from the honor and pleasure of driving the Yankees out of the town that evening, even wearing my old Farbys which fit my feet properly. I regret having missed playing a part in routing those Blue Bellies from the town, but I celebrated the victory by hobbling over to witness the Ball, where a girl of such exquisite beauty so captured me that I could not resist asking her to join me in the next Virginia Reel.
Sunday Morning following a hearty breakfast and stunning Colors drill, I needed to get to church, if only to repent of my carnal enjoyment of the previous evening having danced with multiple female beauties. I was surprised and absolutely delighted by the very robust singing of about 30 brothers-in-arms and several civilians who gathered to worship our Lord on that occasion. Y’all can surely sing! And most especially when the songs are in the worship of our Lord and Savior. On the subject of singing, I must say how very impressed and pleased I was to find that the 2nd Florida is well-supplied with strong voices, capable of raising great melodies and harmonies around a campfire. Truly a high point of the whole weekend for me. My profound gratitude to the Rev John for his spiritual leadership and further guidance later that day. It was a busy time for him as well, attending to a memorial for a fallen Sailor:
Before yesterday afternoon’s final route of all remaining Yankees, I was able to capture these stunning depictions re-creating the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of the Potomac at Appomattox:
In view of our small numbers I was reluctant to “take a hit,” as we say, in the afternoon battle. But rising from a kneeling position (behind cover, shooting and loading) is difficult for me and I needed assistance on two occasions just to keep up with my more fit comrades. On the third such occasion the unit was moving so quickly that I found myself unable to rise to a standing position again, but with no one to help me up. I wanted to holler, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” but I’m told that would be received as amusing rather than serious by the folks who had come to observe the battle. So instead I “took a hit” and hollered to my son, “Avenge me! Avenge me!” and collapsed, knowing that someone would soon be along at the appropriate time if needed. I was able to roll over and get on “all fours” when the time came to resurrect. I still had a round in the gun for the salute. All was well, and my feet were sound enough to carry my aching body back to camp.
My life has been “all work and no play” for several years now, and I can’t adequately express my joy and satisfaction at having the opportunity to serve with you wonderful folks. I hope to adapt better to the infantry than I did for this my first time out as a rifleman rather than on an artillery crew. But the purpose of this report is first and foremost to express gratitude to all of you, and to brag without restraint about my son, my pride and joy.
Very respectfully and sincerely,Your Obedient Servant,
No More a “fresh fish!”