Friday, November 6th, 2009
“I don’t consider myself anything more than a recent student of history. My first entree into reenactment was as a colonial soldier. My son who studies history suggested that I give it a try. I did and really liked it. I learned how to soldier and fire a musket, it was quite fun. A couple of years ago, I injured by back and could not do maneuvers with the regiment. Instead, I sat by the campfire in my colonial outfit with my hair pulled back. People would come over to me as say, ‘Hi, Ben.’ They wouldn’t say, ‘Who are you or what are you?’ It was always, ‘Hi, Ben.’ So, I ended up getting a new outfit made for me as Ben Franklin. When I am in a crowd, people don’t mistake me for anyone else.
“D.C. wasn’t here at the time of Franklin. But, it is a fascinating place because it is the nexus of the political nodes of this nation, just as Philadelphia was during Franklin’s time. That makes this a very special place and Franklin would have loved it, simply because of all of the different people from different walks of life that D.C. attracts.
“Franklin was a thinker. He was outspoken. Today, we say he was outside of the box, but the box didn’t really exist at that time. He understood people and how things worked and was able to work within those parameters to build a new and exciting country for all Americans. As Ben Franklin, I want to impart these lessons to those in the D.C. area. I visit schools and do events at lunches, dinners and restaurants. I did a bit in Paris as Franklin in French, just as he did when he went there in 1776.
“What is fascinating for me is that Franklin unselfishly pursed his goals. He did not set profit as his goal ever, yet he was still successful and made money. He worked for the public cause, not private gain, which is so interesting in light of today’s political environment. These are important lessons for everyone, especially our politicians today.”
Learn more about Barry’s characterization of Ben Franklin here.