As November draws near, most people are thinking of Thanksgiving, and the Holidays that follow. My heart is focused on another day, though–November 19–otherwise known as Remembrance Day. This, along with the 4th of July, are my favorite days of the year.
Enthusiasts of the American Civil War history are well-acquainted with the import of this day, but I think it is safe to say that most Americans have never heard of Remembrance Day. One of the most famous speeches of all time was given on this date in 1863, in a little town called Gettysburg:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…..”—–Abraham Lincoln
Our 16th President, in just a few short minutes, gave comfort and hope to his countrymen at the dedication of The Soldier’s National Cemetary with his immortal Gettysburg Address.
Every year, reenactors, living historians, townspeople, and tourists inundate the town to commemorate the Address and REMEMBER those individuals that gave “the last full measure” in order that we may experience the freedoms that we are priveledged to experience still.
Every year, there are several historical balls in town, a fancy tea, lighting of the luminaries at the cemetary, and the Remembrance Day Parade.
Most of the units in the Parade are military reenactment groups, both Union and Confederate. There are also genealogical societies such as the Sons/Daughters of Union Veterans, and their Southern counterparts. Authentic civililan reenactors also march–beautifully dressed ladies and their handsome escorts.
A few years ago, I felt that I wanted to be a part of this as a way to pay my respects to the soldiers and our country that they suffered for or died to save. Both my third and second great grandfathers were present at the battle. I realized that my contribution would be through the beauty of riding in period attire, and organized a small unit of sidesaddle riders.
After the parade, we received many positive comments and hopeful wishes that we would return in future years. In 2017, our group grew in size, but we were thwarted by Mother Nature who unleashed monsoon-like rains that made it unsafe to ride.
We have high hopes that 2018 will bring better weather as we prepare again for honoring our Civil War soldiers.
It is wonderful to see the efforts that the ladies have put forth in working on authentiticy of their riding habits. It is no secret that the reenactment community has a scrutinizing eye for accuracy, and our riders have improved upon their impressions with enthusiasm. Shown below are original 1860s tintypes and carte de visite (cdv) from my personal collection. This is the look that the riders are striving to emulate.
In closing, I stress that this is a way for us to honor, respect, and remember the sacrifices made for us. It is not a competition and is not governed by any particular group. We are riding as Americans reflecting that the… “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Holly Ray – North East Ohio Ladies Aside