Vietnam Buffs Bring Jungle to Va: Reenactors Evoke a War Many Would Rather Forget

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In Louisa, Va., where Union and Confederate forces once battled, military history buffs assemble on a farm a few weekends each summer to reenact the Vietnam War.

Most of the men and women at the Virginia event were in their thirties and forties -- too young to have experienced the action firsthand but too old to escape the war's grip. Their fathers served in Vietnam, like Robby Gouge's, or they grew up watching it on the news.

As the 90-degree heat and his 50-pound rucksack weighed on him, Gouge conceded that spending a few weekends a summer pretending to be a U.S. soldier in the jungles was crazy. He missed his wife and two kids and wondered why he wasn't at home enjoying the air conditioning.

But this feeling of misery was what he was after. Too much war talk is wrapped up in theory and politics.

"It gives a mental picture of what our dads did," said Gouge, who teaches history at a middle school in Asheville, N.C. "I was blessed. I never had to really do this."

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