Re-enactors Sustain Memory of 54th
Re-enactors pray on the beach on Morris Island in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, in a ceremony honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Wednesday was the 149th anniversary of the attack by the black Union unit on Confederate Battery Wagner, an attack recounted in the film “Glory.”
Members of the 54th see themselves as oral historians, telling the tales that textbooks sometimes gloss over
“We were never taught this in high school,” said Ernest Parks, 53, who graduated from James Island High School shortly after integration in 1968. Reid, a recent retiree from Washington, D.C., has been with the 54th since appearing in “Glory.” He is a rare breed: By the unit’s estimates, there are roughly 100 black Civil War re-enactors nationwide, representing the estimated 200,000 African-Americans who fought in the war.
“If we don’t do it, they’ll forget about it,” Reid said.
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