My life in a kilt began over 50 years ago, following the brutal assassination of President John F. Kennedy. During that long weekend and following week, we were, as a Nation, glued to the glowing silver light of television as the funerary drama played out before our stunned eyes. The Crown sent The Black Watch, which had been at the White House to present the President with an officers’dirk and to play on the South lawn just that previous week, returning from their North American tour to play for the funeral procession out to Arlington. I can remember it to this day, the sound of muffled rope-tension drums and mournfully shrill bagpipes.
My next brush with the kilted life came just as I was entering my twenties. My younger brother had been cutting grass for an older gentleman near our neighborhood in exchange for bagpipe lessons. By the time our tour with The Band of Music of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, Inc. was over, I had learned much about not only Scottish history and Field Music, but many of the important values that I still cherish as a mark of my personal honor. Duty to clan, personal integrity, gentlemanly turn-out and kindness to those less fortunate.
As I have progressed on in my long career as a living historian and historic site interpreter, the kilt has remained my constant companion. I principally participate in French and Indian War reenactments (1754-1761) and have represented the famous 42nd Foot, The Black Watch-the 78th Foot, Fraser’s Highlanders and the 77th Foot, Montgomerie’s Highlanders on service in North America. It has been a rugged life, lived out of doors in all weather and as I’ve become too aged to actively participate the way I used to, I do sorely miss it. My kit stands at the ready to go out any weekend I am up to it!
— Gene R. Clevinger-FSA Scot, Captain-Stewart’s Company, 42nd Foot