The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) introduces many young men and women today to the Air Force and the notion of uniformed service to our nation. The organization is often a stepping stone to military service or a continuation of military service after retirement.

While being a CAP member doesn't make you eligible for burial in a veterans cemetery, many CAP Cadets who have gone on to receive military honors in every branch of service are interred at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans' cemeteries across the nation.

It seems fitting that in 2016 as the Wreaths Across America Living History project launched at Arlington National Cemetery the Civil Air Patrol celebrated its 75th Anniversary and was represented by National Historian Dr. Frank Blazich Jr. who holds the rank of Colonel with the Civil Air Patrol.

"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation," Frank explains. "I've said it before; if you don't understand where you've been, how will you know where you're going?"

Frank says through living history enactors he sees a deliberate and earnest desire to learn about what things were like.

"The attendees on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington or other Wreaths Across America events nationwide, seeing an individual in period dress provides a degree of insight and context they're not necessarily going to achieve otherwise. It's really invaluable, and I'm privileged to be part of the effort."

Frank says while he understands December weather may not be the coziest of environments in which to wear uniforms design for tropical combat he'd like to see more enactors from the Vietnam era participate in the WAA Living History project.

"A great deal of my interest in history was born out of my father's," Frank explains. "The war never left my father both in physical injuries and mental anguish he suffered. Dr. Frank A Blazich Sr. was a disabled Vietnam combat veteran of the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry. He, like many veterans, rarely spoke about the war. As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, I think it would be appropriate to see more reenactors representing that conflict."

Frank has a call to action for reenactment units to get involved in National Wreaths Across America Day in December to highlight the mission objective to teach.

"I would urge groups to participate and I know we have reenactors from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, both World Wars, and even up to the present, representing all branches of the armed forces. If some of these groups or communities would participate there are thousands upon thousands of stories to tell, and I think they would be instrumental in bringing these names and stories back to life. Taking the name from a headstone and representing that individual to the public sharing, not how they died but how they lived and the ideals for which they stood."

Frank says CAP has a group of committed members who have assembled vintage uniforms, primarily of the World War II era and they've participated in the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's World War II weekend held the first week in June in Reading, PA.

"I've reenacted with them and have seen the value of living history and interpreting history with the general public."

Frank and the Wreaths Across America family hope you'll join us as we remember, honor, and teach through living history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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