Q. What is WWII reenacting?
A. WWII reenacting is the process of putting on original and reproduction uniforms, gear, and weapons and creating an approximation of the experiencing of the life of a soldier in World War II. While this obviously does not offer a complete experience, it does make the experience much more real that which one finds in a book or movie. This allows the reenactor/living historian to interpret the artifacts and stories of WWII to others.
Q. Why reenact?
A. As stated above, one can only understand so much from books and movies, stepping into the boots of a soldier allows one to gain a different understanding of their experience. Reenacting is also a form of remembering: many of the rites and celebrations of different faiths, cultures, and countries reenact different events as a way of connecting with events in the past. It is a way of keeping alive and making accessible that which often would be forgotten. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. All reenactors find different aspects of the hobby to enjoy, but we all do it because we enjoy it. It’s an expansive pastime and there is something for everyone to immerse themselves in.
Q. Why reenact with the All Americans?
A. We have successfully welcomed in and gotten established dozens of new reenactors. We have also welcomed in dozens of veteran reenactors looking for a new impression or a new challenge. Either way, there is something new and fun for you to do within the All Americans. We’re fairly democratically run (as opposed to hierarchically) so everyone is free to explore the hobby however best he sees fit. Whatever you choose to do within the All Americans, you will learn a lot.
Q. Isn’t it a little too soon to be reenacting WWII?
A. We don’t think so. As stated above, reenacting is a form of remembering and remembering is important when we are losing 1,200 of our World War II veterans per day. Many of the veterans we encounter are at first surprised and then grateful that someone is remembering them and what they accomplished. World War II was undoubtedly the most important event of the 20th century and the more we remember, by any means possible, the better off we will be today.
Q. How do I get involved with the All Americans?
A. We are always recruiting and excited to bring in new members and are happy to make that possible by giving rides, loaning gear, and so on. Visit our membership page to find out more.
Q. Can you come to our school/museum/parade/living history event?
A. Yes! We are happy to go on the road with our impressions, displays, and demonstrations. Events in central NC will be the most attended. Availability is, of course, dependent on distance and individual calendars. While we are not in this for the money, everything we bring and our time comes from our own pocket so some sort of compensation, whether in the form of food, gas money, contribution to the unit, etc., is appreciated. Please use our contact page to get in touch with us.
Q. Can you be in my movie/TV show/documentary?
A. The All Americans members have participated in several video projects in the past (e.g. a music video, a Speed channel documentary, and a student film) and have contributed extras, military advisers, and costumes/props. We are happy to work with production teams based on your project and budget. Please use our contact page to get in touch with us.
Q. Are you all a bunch of gun-toting, pro-military, war-mongers swimming in a sea of arrested maturity?
A. We don’t think so; the All Americans’ membership includes a diversity of political, religious, and personal ideologies, just like the real WWII Army and its citizen soldiers. We do not endorse any particular ideology, but we do condemn extremism and fascism wherever it is found. As far as maturity, we are regular guys with families, jobs, and lives outside the hobby, just like everyone else.
Q. Why do you reenact these particular units?
A. Grandsons of veterans of the 325th and 504th started two separate reenacting units that merged into “The All Americans.”
Q. Do you charge dues?
A. We do not. Instead we usually do a couple of events throughout the year that pay and that money goes into a unit fund for unit purchases.
Q. What is expected of members?
A. You are absolutely free to choose your level of involvement with the All Americans. We have some members who are at every event, we have others who come out once a year. Some of our members only belong to the All Americans while others are in other Allied and Axis units. Participate when and how you feel like it. We always have a good time when we’re together and like to get everyone in the same place as much as possible, but that has to be within the context of our family and work lives as well.
Q. Is reenacting expensive?
A. Yes, unfortunately. In economic terms, we’re talking about high demand on a small supply which keeps prices high. Plus, some key materials used in things we reenact with (wool, brass, etc.) are already expensive. The good news is that these items often maintain (or increase) their value and can be traded or sold with relative ease. There is a strong secondary market for original and reproduction items and often the major vendors will offer sales as well. So, if you are patient and focused, reenacting can be affordable.
Q. Do you use real guns?
A. Yes, most of the weapons we carry are functional firearms. However, we fire blanks at each other (a blank is a brass or plastic cartridge with a primer and gunpowder but does not have a bullet or other projectile thus nothing exits the barrel of the weapon when fired) to simulate combat. Semi-automatic and automatic weapons require a “blank adapter” to function with blanks. Some pistols and submachine guns are available as BFONG’s (blank firing only guns).
Q. Is reenacting safe?
A. The most dangerous part of a reenactment is most likely the drive. That said, the most common injuries are those that are commonly sustained by any type of physical activity: sprains, strains, etc. Regular exercise and healthy eating will often preclude this type of injury. Firing blanks emits hot gasses and powders that can wound so reenactors are trained on safe firing distances to prevent injury. So, while there is potential for injury, they are rare.
Q. Is your unit hardcore authentic/farb?
A. We like to think that we strike a happy balance between “We’re so authentic that you shouldn’t even consider joining us unless you’ve been in the hobby since before Saving Private Ryan” and “Yeah, totally, do whatever you want, it’s your life, man.” We have members who have been in the hobby for a long time and know their business very well. We also have new members who have been in the hobby a couple months and are still figuring things out and making authenticity mistakes, just like those long-time members did at first. Our expectation is that each member will do his best to put together 100% high-speed impressions, but we also realize that can take a long time. So we make allowances for time and money and continue to encourage each other along to 100%.
Q. Who’s in charge?
A. Our CO (Commanding Officer) is Scott Gray and XO (Executive Officer) is Sean Foster.