Join Or Die

On July 5th of this year, while I was being roasted by the hot summer sun down near Salem [1], I managed to meet a few groups of people involved in civil war reenactment on the side of the Union, which is the only side I would consider pretending to be, largely on account of my own upbringing as a Northern-born unionist in the rural South, a painful experience that I have often mused upon. While some of the units seemed to be focused on hard-partying veterans of our recent foreign wars, one unit in particular, the 1st Oregon/20th Maine, was made up mostly of older men who had a scholarly bent, and this was much more acceptable to me. Over the course of the past few weeks I have been talking with the person in charge of recruitment, and finally at the end of last week I was accepted into the unit pending my filling out of various forms, which happened to arrive in the mail towards the end of the week.

In looking at the forms, the biggest fact that jumps out at me is the language of the release forms. As someone who has had to fill out my fair share of forms relating to release, this one is probably the most serious. Apparently there are some people who may not realize that even the firing of rifles in pretend warfare is dangerous, but those who know me well realize that I despite my unassuming appearance I have a somewhat alarming taste for danger that goes along with my general obstinate character about certain matters. Nevertheless, I read and initialed the form with my customary attention to reading what the paper actually said, with a fair amount of humor, given that I imagine there have been lawsuits about certain matters relating to reenactment, and that I was fully aware that pretend war can be dangerous too. Even if I have not ever been a soldier as far as earthly combat is concerned, I am no stranger to violence, even if I do not enjoy it.

While all of this was going on, during the month of July I have also been paying close attention to a particular kickstarter campaign called Noble Stitch [2]. The particular campaign I was looking at sought to receive some $15,000 in funding in order to begin making socks out of bamboo, with the goal in mind of making socks to help shod the homeless, who apparently ask for socks more than any other item of clothing, which makes sense if one’s life involves a lot of standing and walking and trying to keep one’s poor feet warm at night. As it happens, as odd as it may seem, socks are an item of particular importance in my own clothing purchases that has often been surprisingly difficult a matter to deal with [3]. At any rate, being somewhat thrifty for myself, but also wishing to support and curious in the feel and design of the socks, I ended up contributing at the $12 level and will hopefully be receiving my pair of bamboo socks next month so I can see how they feel, and also support a good cause in helping the feet of others feel more comfortable. It ought to come as no surprise, given my own health concerns related to the feet, that socks and their comfort are a matter of great personal importance. As it happens, perhaps coincidentally, shoes and socks were an important matter in the Civil War as well.

Besides an odd connection with socks and my poor longsuffering feet, these two seemingly unrelated aspects of my life share one particularly strong commonality, and that is the aspect of joining causes and seeking communities. As a single man who tends to feel far too isolated in many aspects of my existence, something I go to great lengths to overcome, the pull of a loving and supportive community is a particularly strong one. At times, this leads me to seek to be generous to others, as in helping out with the funeral of a late friend or helping fund a project to provide socks for the homeless with striking and original designs and a quirky and unusual fabric. At other times, it leads me to serve existing communities around me, such as my community of faith, in often striking and unusual ways, even where it makes my life more complicated. At still other times, it leads me to make plans to dress up in blue wool clothing and learn how to fight 19th century style. In all of these cases, the longing for company and community is at the basis of many of my actions, as it is an area of continual divine discontent. It is not good that man should be alone, after all, so we try to find ways to find good company and to help and encourage others as we also seek to bond for our own well-being. Perhaps the only thing that is unusual is the severity of my own difficulties in the matter, as well as the odd connections I find with others. Perhaps odd is to be expected with me, though.


[2] Not this one:

[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Join Or Die

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