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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 12/04/2004 11:15:31 EDT
Subject: Aknlg'g History of & Re-enact'g With Battle Flag (US)

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I think your suggestion concerning the refraining of using a battle flag by re-enacting signal officers will be well received by many in these quarters and I applaude John Schultz for bringing it to your/our attention.

As to re-enacting Federal signal officers using the battle flag, please let me add to this discussion. These sorts of items are, as are the proliferation of bagpipes at modern re-created events, part of what we ought to keep in the Pandora's Box. I'll get to the way part in a few minutes.

Many well-intentioned but wanna-be signal emulators look for the flash of braid. If some of them can extend that over some distance using a star flag, you'll see it happen. It will be a 'look-at-me' thing and they won't give a hoot what others think. Again... my reasoning is coming in a few more sentences.

I truly believe that much of what we do to emulate derives from what we'd like to have seen happen (when it involves adorning ourselves) and not what we know to have been (if the time is ever actually taken to find out prior to a scheduled portrayal). Some among us actually believe that they have time-in-grade seniority based on the time they've spent in re-enacting service. Such thinking is surealistic at best but it is clung too by a few.

As to historical accuracy some might tell you that history is one thing but this is a re-enactor consideration. The word 're-enactor' seems to have taken on a less-than meaning as it may relate to general managemant TEAM WORK or something. Some of our associates have been sucked into the surealistic thinking of a few general staffers who are now seeing that they can only run things efficiently if they model their group efforts as if fashioned after a modern corporate approach. In some instances, such things are boardering on the bizarre bazaar. (remember... you heard those two words coupled here for the first time)

I told you about the one-time Confederate signal officer/re-enactor who quized me on the Federal battle flag for signal officers and then chimed in with, "well it stands to reason that if the Yankee's had them then the Confederates surely would have had to have something equivilant to it. This fellow had gotten an Education PhD and had gotten all of his subjects to address him as Doctor. (does this account sort of ring a bell or raise a red flag for you Dave?)

This 'enlightened' re-enactor then went about creating a red, white and black signal flag complete with a black Maryland cross in the white square (sound a bit Nazi to you?), battle honours engagement names stitched into the fabric of all of the 125th events he and his followers were attending in the series, and displayed this rag at every event his little tribe were invited to attend.

This is why I am a bit concerned about your idea of only having a signal officer's battle flag brought onto the field if it was appropriate to that particular engagement. If it isn't a one time shot (and the cost of the flag contruction my give this weight), the owner of the flag would constantly have to change the names sewn on a flag or a whole series of flags would have to be gooten up and kept sorta in a baseball bat styled bat rack for ready use.

Been there, done that. But so has the (hummmm....) good docktor, and, needless to say, there will be others ready to traipse right along in his well-travelled footsteps I can asure you. You see, in the minds of some in our community, history has become, as needs must, a secondary issue to what some may call the immediate needs of real-time re-enacting.

Boy! Even I think this is a bummer missive. Perhaps I'll send the next one over to you first for editing. I always enjoy reading your postings. How do you ever manage to keep on the lighthearted-side of the cyber ball?

Inquiring flag foppers wanna know.


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Signal Corps Association Re-enactors' Division (SCARD)
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