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First Person Impression


One end-goal for some reenactors (folks that do this often call themselves "living historians") is the creation of a first person impression. Being able to assume the identity of somebody living in 1941-1945 and being able to tell that person's life experiences. This creates an individual the public can relate to and feel for, or some crud like that. This is definitely where the 'acting' portion of 'reenacting' comes out. 

For the sake of having an example, I submitted myself to this process. Creating a first person impression is much easier said than done. One must take into consideration their own age and background and tailor a story that is authentic and realistic to fit them. As one ages, the story must change also. So, here's mine, completely off the cuff.

Some background on me:
I am 22 years old, have lived in Chicagoland for all but 6 months of my life. I am of Korean decent and was adopted by Curt and Candice Burson. My father is in sales. I enjoy Dashiell Hammett novels and he describes San Francisco in detail (Maltese Falcon, Continental Op). My grandparents on my father's side had a place on Johnson Avenue in Western Springs, IL. My grandmother once recounted her memories of the depression in great detail. I remember exactly where I was standing on when I found out about the attack on the World Trade Center. I am currently a college student on the verge of graduation. I am a lover of history (and have been told many times I should have become a teacher) and enjoy talking to the public.

My first person impression will mimic my real biography. They suggest doing this since it is easier to remember.

First Person Impression: 
I was born sometime in 1918 or 1919 in San Francisco and was an orphan of Oriental decent. I cannot be more specific than this since nobody knows due to lack of records. It was late in 1919 that I was adopted by Curtis Burson and his wife Candice, I was named Kyle Curtis and given an arbitrary birthday of February 18, 1918 (they literally just pointed at a calendar and wherever the finger fell, that was my birthday). I have a sister, also adopted, who is a few years younger than me. My parents were ridiculed, perhaps, by others for adopting, but they put high value on helping orphans and those less fortunate.

We lived on Ellis Street in San Francisco for a few years before my father took up a new job in sales near Chicago. It was there I went to school and remember most growing up. Growing up was different than other kids because I am Oriental (there was a great deal of explaining needed to describe my situation), but most were accepting, most of the time. We lived in Western Springs, IL on Johnson Ave.

I remember the depression, remember money being scarce, my father losing a great deal in the stock market (but not everything), and how we used to scrape every plate, can, jar, etc. clean. Nothing was ever wasted, we were better off than most, but were still tight for money. They were bad times, but our family was better off than most, but only marginally.

I attended Lyons Township High School and graduated in 1937. I then attended the University of Vermont to study education, specifically history, and it was there that I learned to ski and became quite good at it. In my last two years at college I was apart of the ski team. I graduated in the spring of 1941 and returned to Chicago in hopes of finding a teaching job. I was unable to find one anywhere, so I worked odd jobs in the mean time.

I found out about Pearl Harbor I was walking in a 2nd floor hallway, by the first window, near the top of a stairwell. A friend of mine approached me and told me to go down the hall and listen to the radio. He continued down the hall telling others to do the same. In there I heard the reports and distinctly remember the whispers of people behind me updating others as they came into the room. We were at war, whether we liked it or not.

I had heard of the ski troops, they had been featured in magazines and other places for some time. Being a skier, I had interest in them, as did many other people I knew. Still being out of work, I decided after the new year to enlist and try for the ski troops. It was difficult getting three letters of recommendation, but with the ski team and an acquaintance in the National Ski Patrol, I got in. I was offered a chance to go to OCS because I had a college degree. I declined because I was told that I would probably not serve with the ski troops, which was my main desire. It was a decision I do not regret (most of the time). I was sent off to Fort Lewis, Washington before Camp Hale opened on November 11, 1942. I trained with Olympic skiers, the best in the world, and enjoyed every day at Hale. We are one damn fine ski club! 

I am apart of D company, 1st battalion, 87th MIR and went with it to Kiska for the landings there. I currently hold the rank of corporal and am assistant squad leader. Our squad was supposed to be a heavy weapons unit, but was converted to standard rifle company for Kiska. Eventually we will be a heavy weapons unit again, so they tell us, but nobody is looking forward to having to carry those machine guns around again. It can't be soon enough for us to get in this war! Most think we'll be sent for when we take Japan, since Italy (the only other place with mountains) is really a worthless place to fight. I'm with them on this one.

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