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French & Indian War reenactors take over Ogdensburg

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French and Indian War reenactors took over the grounds of Fort de La Presentation Saturday, showing off 18th century weapons, clothes and encampments.

Visitors could interact with the actors and learn about the life of a soldier in those times.

George M. Cherepon, Star Lake, has participated for over eight years in reenactments from Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, to Niagara Falls as a member of Forsyth’s Rifles.

A retired history teacher, Mr. Cherepon said reenactments are way to make history alive again.

“I love the time period,” he said. “Before the battle I was up at the camp showing kids how to make cartridges and load them. I also do English country dance demonstrations. I like to try to replicate the lifestyle. But I always say the greatest inventions were running water and toilets and electricity.”

All the reenactors make or purchase their own costumes and weapons, the day’s battle narrator, Jack Frost, said.

“There are no government subsidies,” Mr. Frost said. “These are all volunteers. They make their own clothes and buy their own weapons. They come here because they have a passion for history.”

Many reenactors travel around the country, making Ogdensburg a regular stop.

Cameron A. Cook, 19, of Springfield, Mass., has traveled to over 10 forts in the last 10 or 15 years. He said Ogdensburg is in his top three places to visit.

“It is usually very peaceful and always very well coordinated,” Mr. Cook said. “It’s a nice little gathering and for the most part everyone is really friendly.”

Mr. Cook, a student at the University of New Hampshire, said he hopes to continue coming to Ogdensburg for a long time.

“I love doing this,” he said. “I love going out and doing the battles. It is an interesting time in American history because America is starting to find its own identity. But America is not yet willing to separate from the British crown because they are still dependent on the empire to rule them.”

Many of the reenactors come up with their own back stories for their 18th Century soldier personae.

“I play a private from the militia,” Mr. Cherepon said. “The king’s troops show up in my hometown and ask for five men to come forward and serve. Even though I am older, I volunteer to become one of the five because son is needed on the farm.”

Many of the reenactors put hours of preparation into developing their character’s backstory.

“After we pick a persona we go home and learn everything we can about that person,” Michael R. Dickinson who plays Cheeksaunkun, a Mohegan Indian. “When we come together as a group, we become a net of information. It makes for good conversation and 18th century ambiance.”

Mr. Cherepon said the life of a militiaman was not a glamorous one.

“They did a lot of the behind the scenes work such as dig latrines, fetch water, and gather firewood,” he said. “The put the private militiamen out there first because, as the least trained, if you get shot it is no loss.”

Researching also helps the reenactors to understand the mentality of the soldiers at the time and the significance of their sacrifice, Mr. Cherepon said.

“There was a lot of work and preparation and I have learned first and foremost, tremendously, to respect the men who had the courage to stand in a line and where people shot at them,” he said. “I mean that took a special kind of courage.”

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