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Home from Marathon

We managed to pull off a reenactment of the Battle of Marathon. I recommend you cruise the pages of Roman Army Talk or Facebook for the roughly 24K images we generated; we had media support out of all proportion to the roughly 85 reenactors who attended. It was, in fact, magnificent I can’t express how wonderful it was. My favorite images are in The Marathon Video at marathononline.

That is, it seems to have been wonderful, because the pictures are superb. I can only remember a few of the high points. But I do remember the amazing flexibility of all the participants and their eagerness to cooperate and share knowledge and expertise; their patience, and their boundless enthusiasm.

I’ve been reenacting since I was 14 years old, and nothing prepared me for this event not even Lexington and Concord 1975 had the spirit of the 2500th anniversary of Marathon. The town, the public, the beach tourists, the locals, and the reenactors.

Most moving, for me, was when I stood in the dawn on September 9th and watched an elder Greek man pour wine on the graves of the Athenians and the crowd roared “Athanatos!” at the rising sun “Immortal” as he named each of the men who had served or died at Marathon. 2500 years ago.

There comes a point when the recreation of history seems to be almost synonymous with the making of history; certainly we study the activities of the centennial of the American Revolution with alacrity, and it was clear, from the reaction of the press and the Greek people, that something about our reenactment struck a cord deeper than mere playacting. Greece is in deep water, and almost no one is particularly interested in helping.

There is a joke in Greece they say, “Greece gave democracy to the world, and kept none for ourselves.” And when they have a giant deficit a deficit that is to some extent their own fault, and to some extent the fault of international organizations forcing programs on Greece that would be considered expensive in the US or Canada (the Olympics comes to mind) it is easy to ignore the PEOPLE of Greece and blame their government. “Let them sink.”

Perhaps in 1917, Americans should have turned their backs on France. After all, the blood and treasure France spent on helping the Continental Congress win independence from Great Britain had NOTHING to do with the muddled and somewhat self-serving government who got them deeply involved in war with Germany.

Right?

And yet, Pershing said, “Lafayette, we are here.”

Shall we let Greece sink? After that dawn at Marathon, and the crowd shouting ATHANATOS! I, for one, am proud that I went to Marathon. Many of us have not forgotten the debt we owe to Greece.

Miltiades, we are here.