On World War II Reenacting

Photo Credit: Matt Milligan

Reenacting is both a unique and important hobby. Only those that are dedicated and serious enough to upholding our mission can reap the most benefits out of it.

Few people have the opportunity, time, or resources to study the Second World War, despite the conflict being one of the most important and impactful turning points in human history. Veterans are getting older and many are unable to tell their stories. Movies, literature, and other media have created an overwhelming amount of information for the general public – much of which is based on fact, but not without the creation of myths and legends which are deceiving or simply untrue.

While none of us will fully understand or re-create verbatim the experiences of the Glidermen who served, fought, and died during the Second World War, our primary objective is to preserve and honor their memory to the best of our abilities and share that knowledge with the wider public.

The 401st GIR has a reputation of being a premiere reenacting unit within the WWII Historical Reenactment Society (HRS). To uphold this status, we have a responsibility to thoroughly research our “impressions” and presentations to avoid teaching myths and Hollywood stereotypes of the war. While we take this role seriously and take pride in our work, we also want to have fun. Unit members that have been with us for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years are always there to help out our newer recruits and guide them through expectations of both the unit and the hobby.

The 401st GIR always strives for a higher standard. At the same time, we have to remember and reflect on who we represent in this hobby, and the experiences they had to face both at home and overseas. When talking to the public, we do our best in not just reciting facts but transporting our audience back in time, and help them explore different perspectives of this world-wide event. Much can be said (and debated) about this hobby, but at the end of every event – whether it be your first event or your 100th – the message is clear. We do this to preserve the memory of those who served, and to not let the public forget their sacrifice.

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