Collectors and Collecting.......... Hmmmmm, a big broad topic.
Master Sergeant Cliff, and new recruit, David
Well, not really, it's
actually quite plain and simple. But to people who aren't really true Collectors at heart, this won't seem to make a lot of personal sense (they won't even read this!). Basically, you aren't a Collector unless your passion is stirred as thoroughly as your mind. A museum curator giving a cool and calculated lecture on the dozens of Civil War weapons that are stacked in the basement is not a Collector. But that average Joe who sits and gazes at a badly pitted Colt wondering who used it and what it went through to get pitted definitely is! This man might just wake late one night and for no certain reason, sneak down to his "room" of collectibles to visit that old beat Colt! Let's put it another way.... if the museum burned down tomorrow, the curator would need to fill out duplicate forms looking for funds to have it rebuilt. But if that museum had belonged to true "Collectors", it would've been rebuilt roughly by noontime.
Of course, there are many other elements to being a Collector, or Hobbyist, or "Specialist" in anything. Behind it all is that drive we call passion. By tempering it with knowledge one can focus the feeling with some clear direction. A Collector who is both smart and passionate will rarely be disappointed or surpassed. But without being told to do so, real enthusiasts always seem to learn as much as they can anyway. And that's good, because while all the "big" facts are always kept on the "official" record books somewhere, the human story of the past is mostly kept alive by those people sometimes called "buffs". (Well, count me in as a "buff"!) We clearly see this played out by the Civil War reenactors and their families who give immense amounts of their time and energy to honoring our ancestors in a real and open sense. They show us the "common thread" that links all who admire and collect from the American Civil War: It is our Imagination. The ability in some people more than others to dream of what's not right before them. To feel something from somewhere else. To reach beyond the little two seconds in which we always are just living! It's really a great, broad power. And it rewards us. It gives us sympathy, or what they call empathy. It even makes us wise to things before we do those things ourselves. So, the whole process is like a vast meal of many courses for the soul. We understand a bit more about faith, loyalty, courage, and love as real things rather than ideas on TV or CD. As Collectors , or "enthusiasts", we learn much about our own values. We learn discipline. To focus. To Honor and Cherish. So, yes, in a way, we become married to this thing we admire. And no longer is one "alone" in this world as some little isolated piece of life, but rather, the Collector now shares ideas and values with a whole Community of similarly inspired individuals. We become bit of a close knit family, oddly linked through both the
past and present.
Cliff preserves relics from a proud past
In any case, we each know where we came from and how we first got inspired. Family, siblings, army buddies, guy next door, or Dad. I was lucky to have a quite amazing family of people with big imaginations and many smart interests. I was just like a baby chick in a nest of Civil War fanatics! (Fed minies!) My Dad and brothers not only "collected", but they added the icing on the cake, so to speak, by openly thinking about and discussed these things. Well, that was my way in. I am now the most enthusiastic of the enthusiastic. (I'd have the museum rebuilt by 9:30, no excuses!) And you all, have each found your own way here. And really, in the end, it doesn't much matter how, does it? The fact simply is: we are here! Members of that one Big Club that forever will honor and admire the American Civil War. The only challenge, however, is to just stay on track through it all. Collectors seem to collect to exist. We will do that in spite of anything else. And through our mix of passion and imagination we'll clearly do it to the limit. But here's the catch. To really perfect oneself as a Collector, one must gain some ultimate Wisdom concerning all the issues. Call it maturity. And in getting that, a great light bulb will finally go on in your noggin'. You'll see that behind all the old objects in everyone's collections there lies the final truth of the actual men and women that struggled so intensely over a hundred years ago. Sure, we've got to preserve their weapons and uniforms. But honestly, these things were not them. Rather, it was Spirit and Soul. And these are more difficult to preserve than any dug relic. Never the less, that's really part of our job as modern "collectors", you see. To validate these past lives on into the future. We are therefore given the honorable task of being their minstrels, so to speak. We must pass on their stories as we know them. Repeat the reason and purpose of their lives. And then, by that, they have never really been lost in the end. And for ourselves, by being so much more sensitive, we are not lost in the end either. We are not left wandering alone. Because we learn through our association with the Civil War that the chain of faith and honor is indeed endless.
|Master Sergeant Cliff Family Reunion 2000 at Gettysburg|
Only Known Italian Regiment
Here's to your good fortune in the journey!
Curiosity Killed the Cat!
Master Sergeant Cliff's New Mission Statement, June 1999