To those of us who live in Tucson, Picacho Peak is the only interesting point between Tucson and Phoenix during a long boring car ride. It's a big anvil-shaped mountain with an RV park and a Dairy Queen, and it's pretty steep. When we want to impress people from out-of-town, we say, "Oh yeah, climbed it once."
But the other day, Picacho Peak was where they fought the Gettysburg of the West. Hundreds of Civil War re-enacters in Yankee and rebel uniforms aimed their long rifles and shot off their rolling cannons in great booms that shook the desert floor and created gigantic smoke rings in the turquoise desert sky.
When Lincoln said, "Now are met on a great battle-field of that war," I bet he didn't picture us 150 years later sitting on the side of Picacho Peak, watching re-enacters like this.
About 200 Civil War re-enacters come to Picacho Peak every year in March to portray the battles of Valverde, Glorietta Pass and Picacho Pass. Some people play a certain character -- such as a doctor or bugle boy or captain -- through the entire re-enactment. If their character gets killed, they have to play dead. Even the kids dress up!
Apparently, there are three kinds of Civil War Re-enactors. You can be an "Authentic," which means everything you wear is 100% correct to the 1860's times. You can be a "Standard," which means you sometimes cheat a little by drinking a coke or using a cell phone, or you can be a "FARBY", which stands for "Far Be It From Me to Criticize." It sounds a little nerdy, but the truth is these people look as if they are having an absolute blast, even if their pup tents are very primitive.
Their cannons are truly awesome!
(COVER YOUR EARS!)
In the middle of the Battle of Glorietta, the two sides suddenly stop the fight. One side holds up a white glove, and they meet in the middle. They decide to stop the battle and allow themselves time to tend to their wounded in dead. Why couldn't they just stop the entire war altogether?
Abraham Lincoln would have liked the re-enacters.
Lincoln would have liked us to remember any way we could ....
He would have liked us to remember any way we could that 620,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, some of them just baby bugle boys ... Lincoln would have liked us to remember any way we could, so we do not to repeat the terrible mistakes of his generation. We promise, Father Abraham ... even in this cactus-land ...
We promise to remember always.