Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hurtful Words: Canceling the Battle of Seccessionville

I feel we as a reenacting community need to be aware, to realize we are not above reproach even in our volunteer educational role. At the very core, a reenactor is a lover of history.

And it's just that. I've recently had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg, an exhausting vacation filled with everything. I wanted to explore every house, monument, and restaurant (ha) that preserved history. Those places should thrive, continuing through to other generations. Few reenactors will deny the awe of that solemn battlefield.

We lend our support in a variety of ways. As a visitor, I pay for admission. As a reenactor I give my time and resources, two immense items that cannot be quantified. I deserve to be respected for my efforts to the preservation of history and public education. Right now, everything is a bit sticky. I've already written once about the Confederate flag debate, and the rhetoric that transpired. I'm walking on eggshells on all sides.

I have no direct connection to the Boone Hall Plantation. My last visit to South Carolina was many years ago. Yet as a reenactor I feel a certain kinship to a place that holds Civil War events. Maybe it's the common things, like campfire, hearty songs, and the crackled fire of the guns.

Also, I'm interested in continuing any place that attempts to preserve history. My research on Boone Hall has shown a myriad of programs that do just that. Education on slavery, agriculture, and basic 19th century life is essential to full understanding of this country. If I lived nearby it would probably be a stop on my travel list at least once a year. Ah, but the recent controversy!

The Battle of Seccessionville, held at Boone Hall Plantation for the past 24 years, has been cancelled. Boone Hall Plantation released this statement:

 "We gave this decision very serious consideration and after consulting with community leaders and discussing this with event Chairman Randy Burbage, we decided to show honor and respect to the victims of the recent tragedy and give the community time to heal. It was a difficult decision as Boone Hall's association with this event has been long standing, but one we made and think is best on behalf of Boone Hall and the Charleston community at this time. Thank you."

 I can feel that disappointment. A family event gone. No matter the reasoning behind the cancellation, a chance at the campfire, song, and gunpowder ceases to be. As a reenactor I am troubled that an event can just disappear. I think of how terribly sad if an event like Greenfield Village just went away. However, the story does not end there.

People have decided to voice their displeasure at the decision. I am happy we live in a country that allows us to do so-despite our race, color, religion, sex, and etc. Good! When I am unhappy, I write a blog post (as you can see). It is when these words turn hurtful that I scale back, searching for a better option. And in regards to Boone Hall Plantation, people have become outright nasty.
















One man even resorted to creating a duplicate facebook group entitled "Boycott Boone Hall Plantation." He made sure to make it look EXACTLY like the main page, and is spamming the regular website with links to it. 


No matter your opinion of this cancellation, we should all agree that badgering, boycotting, and downright harassing a historic site is in poor taste. How do we portray ourselves as reenactors when we say those negative things? WHY WOULD THEY WANT US BACK? For shame on us for this nasty language.

If you are not pleased with the cancellation, express your disappointment appropriately. Here's an example of a complaint that does not offend:

To whom it may concern;

I am very disappointed that the Zombie Reenactment has been cancelled. My ancestors fought in many battles of World War Z, and I'd like to honor their contributions. Please reconsider your decision. 

Sincerely,

Kristen 

There. Unhappy, check. Personal investment, check. My goal, check. Notice that I made no personal attacks or used harsh words. Will hate mail cause the event planners to reverse this decision? Or will it backfire, as they want to wash their hands of the mess? Regardless, I am appalled at how many reenactors responded poorly to the news. Please be disappointed, please voice your displeasure. I noticed many well-written responses on that site. To those people-good job! I even saw someone wishing to raise money for the families.

As for a boycott...what does that prove? Or purposefully going on their rating sites in order to give them bad reviews? Destroying reputation does not make for a good future event.

And just in case you were wondering, racism.

To the Boone Hall Plantation staff; I am sorry you had to cancel your event, and I wish that the barrage of hate mail did not happen. To those hateful commenters...be nice.

~Kristen

***My heart hurts for those families/friends affected by the tragedy. May Charleston continue to heal in this time of loss. We're praying for you here in Michigan.

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