Terre Haute, Indiana - In a town steeped with history, men of the local Moose Lodge #723 are preparing to continue a tradition that's gone on here since 1977. A war re-enactment.
But not a Civil War one, those are old fashioned and cliche. A Vietnam one. Not only are these more modern, but the people here have found they are cheaper - and funner!
"Heck, do you know how expensive it used to be to perform the Civil War? All the period uniforms and such?", said "Sergeant" Dan Butler. "But the Vietnam re-enactment, that's dirt cheap! And all can play, no military training needed!"
Dan is refering to the fact that many of the local men will show up in civilian clothes and carry college textbooks or walk around saying, "I'm Canadian, eh?". This reflects the millions who served by hiding on campuses and in Canada while 58,000 of the poor and disadvantaged died in their place. This year, Mayor Bascom is wearing his usual clothes, as he always comes as Bill Clinton.
Even the others who wish more active roles need not spend as much money. Typically some old fatigues, a baggie of pot or syringe of heroin, and a container of napalm to toss at the local kids. And an AR-15, the only pricey item on the list.
"The kids love that we include them!", said Dan. "We throw the mixture of gas and laundry soap on them - unlit of course! - and they run screaming down the street! It really helps give them a feel for the sacrifices their forefathers made!"
Other kids play the "peasants", and make papier mache huts. Sometimes they yell "go home joe", in which case the adults playing U.S. soldiers set the huts on fire. As the kids run away, they'll yell and fall, pretending to have been shot in the back by the "yanks".
In the other scenario, the "peasants" will say "Welcome Yank, you want my sister? You have chocolate?" in which case the adults playing U.S. soldiers set the huts on fire. As the kids run away, they'll yell and fall, pretending to have been shot in the back by the "yanks".
It's capped off by the men of the U.S. side running out of the park and leaving the "peasants" to be slaughtered by the V.C., played by other neighborhood kids with sticks and bats.
All in all, great family fun and an invaluable history lesson.
And on a more somber note - something to make one remember that here in America, freedom has never been free, but has been paid for by the blood of past heroes.