Reenacting, the practice of replaying historical events, is a hobby with a fairly substantial following in the United States. Wars seem to be the most popular events being reenacted and Civil War re-enactors are enough of a cultural presence to be used for an impressively funny commercial:
But there are troubling aspects to reenactment as well. Like it or not, playing Confederate soldiers in the Civil War invokes uncomfortably the Lost Cause mythology and the enslavement of millions of African-Americans. Equally fraught is World War II reenactment, especially if someone wants to play the Germans, whether Wehrmacht or (as is the case of one GOP candidate), the Waffen-SS. The evoking of the Holocaust is inescapable and deeply distressing. Nor can this be compared simply to an actor playing a role. Actors play many roles; re-enactors tend to stick with a single side and even a single unit for years at a time (the candidate in question, for example, had been a member of the same SS re-enacting unit since at least 2003). As Robert Citino points out, such Waffen-SS re-enacting requires either a fundamental acceptance of the evilness of the SS or a thorough white-washing of their history. Neither is particularly comforting.