by Jonathan Young
ECM Sun Newspapers
David Biren, a Civil War re-enactor from Elk River, went to Gettysburg as a member of the official Minnesota delegation marking the battle’s 150th anniversary July 1-3.
Biren and other re-enactors traveled to Pennsylvania the week before the battle’s anniversary to participate in re-enactments near the battlefield June 27-30.
Of all the events Biren has attended during his three years as a re-enactor, this year’s events near Gettysburg were the most difficult he’s participated in. Like the soldiers in the Civil War, the men were short on food and dealt with unpleasant weather while sleeping on the ground. All that contributes to the realism of the experience.
By doing re-enactments, Biren hopes to educate others about history. He has a fear that many people have lost the passion for history that he’d like to see. When people, especially children, see Biren as a re-enactor, he hopes “maybe they get that little spark, and then maybe they carry on that legacy.”
Although Biren enjoys battle re-enactments, he said the highlight of this trip to Gettysburg was carrying the colors during a symbolic walk retracing the steps of the 1st Minnesota’s famous charge July 2.
As he walked, he thought about what the men of the 1st Minnesota were doing 150 years ago and why he thought they were doing it.
“They weren’t doing it to free slaves,” he said. “They weren’t doing it for the Union. They were doing it for each other.”
Biren called it “a very moving experience.”